Reputation vs. marketing in open source

One of the big stories for 2007 is going to be the battle between marketing and reputation.

One of the big stories for 2007 is going to be the battle between marketing and reputation. (This guy is pure marketing, and thus has no role in what follows.)

Traditionally open source gets by on reputation. Your credibility, your openness, your commitment to open source values, help determine your standing in the community, and that standing can be turned into cash.

You don't see a lot of high-cost advertising from companies like RedHat. It's not necessary. They put their money into support. It may, in fact, be counter-productive (although don't let the ad staff hear that).

On the other side, for the first time, we have the big guns, the proprietary companies that have traditionally relied upon marketing to push product. Microsoft, Oracle, Sun (just typing the names makes an ad manager drool) and the other large vendors now crafting open source policies are in a new world. Can they win through with their old tactics?

All publishers have a dog in this hunt, and unfortunately it's the new boys. They pay our bills.

Will the older open source companies step up to the plate to keep discussions like this going, and if so in what way? Will the new "open source" outfits cut their marketing budgets and leave journalists hungry, preferring to burnish their reputations with Web sites and code contributions? And how will enterprises, the consumers of paid open source code, decide which side to honor with their money? 

We'll have a lot of these answers as 2007 moves along. The challenges on both sides are enormous. It will be fun to cover. Call our ad people if you agree.

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