McDonalds, Starbucks, open source, and a story of convenience

Open source is all about convenience. Like McDonalds. Like Starbucks.

More than anything else, convenience fuels many businesses today. Entertainment. Software. And, as the Wall Street Journal reports on McDonalds' foray into high(er)-end coffee bars, food.

The confrontation between Starbucks Corp. and McDonald's Corp. once seemed improbable. Hailing from very different corners of the restaurant world, the two chains have gradually encroached on each other's turf. McDonald's upgraded its drip coffee and its interiors, while Starbucks added drive-through windows and hot breakfast sandwiches.

The growing overlap between the chains shows how convenience has become the dominant force shaping the food-service industry. Consumers who are unwilling to cross the street to get coffee or make a left turn to grab lunch have pushed all food purveyors to adapt the strategies of fast-food chains.

We're seeing much the same thing in the software world.

One of the primary drivers of open source has been the ease of its adoption. No lawyers. No license fees. No salespeople. Just code. Just solutions to IT problems.

Can the proprietary world replicate open source's convenience? It's certainly trying. I don't personally think there's anything obstructing the proprietary vendors from making the leap. Nothing but their historical prejudices and outmoded business models. But those can change. And will.

Customers want convenience. Open source delivers. Over 1 billion served.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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