Linux makes the leap

SAN FRANCISCO--Geoffrey Moore, the author of the influential book "Crossing the Chasm" and president of the Chasm Group consulting firm, took a stab at applying his technology evaluation method to the open-source realm Tuesday.

At the Open Source Business Conference, Moore concluded that a variety of open-source projects have crossed the chasm--meaning that they're useful not just to a niche of early adopters, but also to a larger group of mainstream customers.

Among the projects he believes have crossed the chasm and now are mainstream are the Linux operating system for use on servers and in embedded devices, the Apache Web server, and the MySQL database. That means companies can be confident using that software deeply within their businesses.

Among the projects yet to make the jump are Linux on personal computers and the Firefox Web browser, he said. "It's hot with the early adopters," he said of Firefox. "I donÂ’t think it's crossed the chasm."

Also enlightening were views into the world of a business consultant. "Let's be honest, I've milked the hell out of this model for 15 years," Moore said of his chasm-crossing idea. And business consultants evidently must be facile with heavy-duty concepts and jargon: "As you look at your business models, I'd like you to think of them as a context extraction vehicle from your customers," Moore advised.

A grasp of psychology also helps. Moore connected various motivations in Maslow's hierarchy of needs with the operational styles of IBM, Microsoft, Google and the open-source programming community.

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