January 3, 2007

Marketing of Open Source by the End User

Catharina Bethlehem writes "Marketing of Open Source Software and the role of the End-user.

Six months ago, I as a non-geek, changed my Mac for an open source system and I am very satisfied with it. What surprises me actually is that still so few people use a fully open source operating system, soI did some research to find wat prevents people from doing that.

Out of an interview we did among starting entrepreneurs in the Netherlands, it became clear that most of them had never heard about open source software
In posts on Internet forums it appears that among people that have heard about it, there is still a lot of ignorance and mistrust on the possibilities and the user friendliness of open source.
When we wanted to buy a laptop without a Windows license in the city where we live, we could not get it in any computer shop.

This makes clear that the barriers for people to move to open source are related to:

        * Ignorance
        * Trust
        * Availability

All of these aspects are related to the marketing of open source or in fact, the non-marketing of open source. Most open source projects hardly have a budget for marketing and their main goal is to developthe software. The companies that do have a budget for marketing mainly aim for the server or corporate market instead of the desktop users. So, it is not a miracle thatthe general public has hardly any
knowledge on the subject.

The question arises about what can be done about it and who should do it. We can't expect the open source community to spend huge budgets on marketing and if they did it would not be a healthy development. If more money is spent on marketing than on software development a company should ask it self what the point is of their existence. Such a strategy would certainly not fit in with the ideas behind the free software movement.

But still, the open source community is not powerless compared to commercial companies with huge marketing budgets. The power of the marketing of open source software lies mainly with the end users en in total they outnumber the amount of marketeers in companies such as, for example Microsoft, Apple and Adobe. The end users also outnumber the developers of open source who at the moment make the biggest contribution to the existence of open source software. It's the end users who should return the favor and take the responsibility for the marketing of open source. Some examples of what they can do:


Join social bookmarking sites, such as http://www.stumbleupon.com/http://www.digg.com/ and http://www.technorati.com/ and bookmark everything you come across and like in relation to open source software in general or the open source product you're enthusiastic about.
Take an active part in Internet forums where open source (but certainly also closed source) is a subject and in your signature enclose a reference to an interesting open source related subject or product.
Start a web log and blog about open source software.
Write articles about open source software and add them to article directories.
Order promotional material, such as stickers or posters at companies that have that available and stick them to your laptop, car or spread them in public places.


Order or burn cd's with an open source operating system or other open source products and spread them among your friends and family and if needed, help them with installations.
Show people what software you use and what it can do.


Ask at computer shops for a computer with a free operating system or without a license for a closed operating system. Demand generates availability; if enough people do that, the market must react.

So far my ideas on what can be done by the end user to improve the marketing of open source software, but I am sure there is much more. This article is the start of a course on marketing of open source and the role of the end users, that is published on: http://www.open-of-course.org/marketing-of-open-so urce-2.html

The course is published under a creative commons license and everyone is welcome to join, make suggestions and improve the content."

Link: open-of-course.org

Click Here!