Skip to main content

Are products more important than philosophies?

[Continuing from previous post]..

Open source and free software community has been growing and preaching its philosophy for over decades. This preaching has also been supported by solid product lines that are freely available, better in performance and are more addictive than any other proprietary software around. Yet the ground realities of the software world are still largely favorable for proprietary model. Comparing market shares, or user base would be futile since open source hardly follows any market mechanism. It is very difficult to keep track of number of open source users. Hence the only method to understand the popularity and usage patterns is to call hundreds of common software users and ask them what software do they have on their home computers.

I have been a part of a marketing campaign and fortunate enough to be present in the actual execution at various places, which gave an opportunity of understanding thousands of common computer users. With no exception, all of the people involved had some version of windows installed on their machines. That is not to say that there isn't anyone who uses anything other than windows. In fact, I myself have not used windows in past 6 years and am very well aware of the circles where Linux-based systems are used as a principle and Mac OS is of course there among niche markets. But for a common man, a personal computer means windows, he doesn't care what operating system means, he only knows there is something called windows on his machine and there is some version of it which is latest. Coming back to open source in general, there are indeed a few open source softwares that have made successful penetration. The most important software on a home computer in today's world, when a computer is almost useless without internet, is the web browser. And the only open source software that people mentioned widely was, Mozilla Firefox. The major reason for its success was that it was freely downloadable, worked on windows, and performed better than the default browser IE. Many people in fact defended Firefox against IE on performance and features front. But I cannot imagine these people saying that they used it because its offering them some kind of a freedom. I have to admit that it was very unlikely that they knew that it falls under something called 'open source', same is the story with vlc, dc etc. They use it, because it works for them.

These observations may have a few variations depending upon various demographics and geographies, but overall I don't think it would be very objectionable if I try to generalize them.

Thus we see that, on one hand, few important products such as linux-based open source operating systems (fedora, ubuntu, debian etc.) are being successful on philosophical terms, they aren't yet successful as products themselves in terms of usage by common people, while there are products like firefox, that are successful in terms of common usage but not contributing much for the philosophical front.

I won't say one success is more important than other, but probably there is something to be learned from both of these cases. Every open source enthusiast would like to see success on both the fronts. The question is how to market the philosophy and the products simultaneously?

Popular posts from this blog

PVR is so wierd!

Yesterday we went second time to a mall bit far from office to complete the earlier failed mission of watching this 3D movie, Clash of the Titans. On ticket counter, we were first told that evening show was house full. Then we asked for a night show, and were told there isn't any show then and the gentleman handed us the pamphlet of all movie schedules. We checked on the nearby digital kiosk and also on the printed schedule to be sure of the show timings. Then went to second counter, and asked the lady for the night show tickets, and without any problem got the tickets for back seats. In fact this show was hardly 20% full, wonder how the evening show became houseful.

But the biggest wonder/blunder is yet to come. On the entrance we were stopped for having a laptop bag along with (we had went straight after the office). In spite of having checked the bag, we were not allowed, because laptops were not allowed inside! Then we asked for keeping it at the baggage counter. But then, the…

Unicode 5.1 release and Indic changes

Unicode 5.1 release was announced earlier this month on 4th April. Here I have put a diff taken of Unicode 5.1 character database against that of Unicode 5.0. My buddy, Parag also did a nice job of summarizing the Indic specific changes, that I am trying to restate now.
So, here go the updates on Indian scripts UCD:

A. New Indic Scripts Added to Unicode:

1. LEPCHA:

Lepcha is a language spoken by the Lepcha people in Sikkim in India,and parts of Nepal and Bhutan. The Lepcha script (also known as "róng") is a syllabic script which has a lot of special marks and requires ligatures. Its genealogy is unclear. Early Lepcha manuscripts were written vertically, a sign of Chinese influence. Lepcha is considered to be one of the aboriginal languages of the area in which it is spoken. Total number of speakers numbers near 50,000. Unicode Range =>U1C00 to U1C4F Chart URL => http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U1C00.pdf

2. OL-CHIKI:

The Ol Chiki script, also known as Ol Ce…

Launching the project 'i18nWidgets for Android'

A lot of Android devices, platforms and apps have several issues regarding rendering of non-English text especially that of Indic text. Though many of them claim to support various Indic and other languages, it usually either means that they have a font for that language included or they have some of the native apps supporting all these languages. But this does not mean all the app will be able to render the non-English text properly. This usually happens for one of the following problem being present:
1. No fonts added in the device (or the native android system) 2. Fonts are not accessible by the third party application 3. App has its own Unicode font, but the native android system does not support text layout rendering for the language 4. App has the font and the android system also supports the language, but the sdk for the particular platform does not have widgets integrated with the complex text rendering features.
This problem gave birth to the idea of developing and extending…