A different open source market

Ask Americans about the best sponsors of open source and they are likely to mention Mozilla, Eclipse and Red Hat. In China the big names are IBM, Sun and Google. These are American companies businesses trust, and that trust is a very important asset there.

When Americans consider the open source market we think of enterprises downlaoding server software and building applications for customers or internal use.

If we think of the desktop market at all, we think of applications like Firefox, downloaded by individuals. That's not an opportunity, just a drain on proprietary rivals. The money is on the server side.

Peter Cheng, my counterpart over at ZDNet Asia, recently read a report on China's use of open source software and it paints a very different picture.

There, you see small businessmen using online communities to choose desktop programs that will run their businesses cheaply and comply with licensing laws.

Ask Americans about the best sponsors of open source and they are likely to mention Mozilla, Eclipse and Red Hat. In China the big names are IBM, Sun and Google. These are American companies businesses trust, and that trust is a very important asset there.

China is an immense IT market, and it can be a great source of open source ideas. It is important that we understand what people care about there, and where they might be able to help.