What do Apple's earnings say about open source?

I prefer to think there are things open source can learn from Apple's success, things we can adapt. Their attitude toward service, for one thing.

CBS Radio called me yesterday to talk about the Apple earnings release.

Summer is traditionally the slow season for tech sales, but iPods and Macs flew off the shelves. There was a warning that past earnings may have to be re-stated (because they weren't real) and there are the usual nay-sayers who say this can't go on.

But maybe it can. As hardware prices collapse, software is an increasing part of the value people buy. Apple has carefully husbanded its reputation for foolproof "cool," and its new ads (called the 'Bill and Steve' campaign by the snarky) are a hit. For the first time, Apple may really be taking some good chunks of market share from Windows, and given its tiny slice of the current market there's still far to go.

What does this say about open source? Is it possible that the whole movement was really just a reaction to Microsoft? After all, the iPod has DRM. The Mac OS (despite its BSD heritage) is basically proprietary.

I prefer to think there are things open source can learn from Apple's success, things we can adapt. Their attitude toward service, for one thing. My own iPod crashed recently, after 9 months of hard use, so they sent me a box, I put the little guy in there for the delivery man, and I'll be good as new in about a week. No questions, no arguments, no hard time.

Selling this idea of quality service is the heart of the open source business model. Apple has shown a quality service model can be scaled.

So who in open source will be the first to scale it?

 

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