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Is Open Source Innovative?

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In making the case that the window for Linux “worldwide domination” in the mobile space has elapsed – its role as the foundation of the open source Android platform notwithstanding – Forrester analyst Mike Gualtieri argues that open source isn’t fundamentally innovative.

Open source never seems to be the innovator. Instead, it seems to disrupt pricing power for established technologies.

There are numerous counterexamples to this; my analyst colleague from the 451 Group Rachel Chalmers cites Unix, others the underlying protocols of the internet and I myself would point to the more recent work that browser teams like Chrome and Mozilla are doing or the pre-Cambrian explosion currently occurring in the non-relational database market. But superficial questions like “can open source innovate” obscure real, fundamental changes in the way that software is being developed today. Changes that are important.

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