I continue to be surprised by the amount of weight given to downloads as a metric for OSS success. A topic Matt Asay also touched on recently over at The Open Road. Like Matt, IÃ¢â¬â¢m talking OSS at the product or company level (i.e., not OSS projects) and by success I mean sales.
For me, a high number of downloads only signals that people are willing to trial a product. Downloads do not equal actual use of the product, and trial is a far cry from success. If we take it as a given that consumers see value in the product, the company still has to convert those downloads into paying customers, and this challenge is where the problems of using downloads as an indicator of success become apparent.
February 14, 2008