At what stage of life is the open source industry?

Every industry goes through life stages, just like people. At what stage is open source at, now, in the middle of 2009?

Every industry goes through life stages, just like people.

At what stage is open source at, now, in the middle of 2009?

Matt Asay says we're at the growth stage. He is cheered by Red Hat's latest earnings. So am I.

But there is another way to look at this news. Is it possible we have already reached the consolidation phase?

Industry life stages are a little like the old joke about fame. Applied to me, they would be who is Dana, get me Dana, get me someone like Dana, get me a young Dana, and who is Dana? At age 54, I admit some may be looking for a young Dana. As to Matt, I think we want more people just like him.

Applied to industries, these stages would be the industry's birth, its entrepreneurial period, its growth, consolidation, and the maturation of the market in the few strong hands left.

Or to put it more bluntly, what's open source, get me open source, get me anything that sounds like open source, get me the big gun in open source, and who cares about open source.

Matt says we're at the third stage. I fear we're at the fourth.

In a market's growth stage there are new jobs, new start-ups, new niches, and lots of business. The industry moves through the mass market like a whirlwind and people make money, In a market's consolidation phase, the leaders are identified and the rest of the herd is culled.

It is possible I am confusing a general recession with a market consolidation.

Open source is now a feature throughout the software industry, and it is continuing to take share away from proprietary software in niches -- like enterprise applications -- where it is strong.

But will open source achieve a breakthrough in the desktop and mobile markets that will lead technology out of its present recession, or will it remain tied to servers, the area where Red Hat is strongest?

That's the question I am asking myself today, and my fear is that we are indeed consolidating. But I am often wrong and would love to hear what the market is telling you.

Is there youth in that Red Hat, as it would be if Matt were wearing it? Or is it just hiding a giant graying bald spot, as it would be if I put it on? [poll=105]


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