Steve Wozniak: Apple savvy has made him open-source ignorant

Steve Wozniak is pretty smart, but not so bright when it comes to open source.

I read this interview in eWeek with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, with interest. "Woz" is a smart guy, but he seriously misunderstands the commercial side of open source:

There's always a group of people that wants to undo the forces of industry that have given us so much in terms of wealth, and there's always people who want things to be free. The open-source movement starts with those sort of people. But it still has such good points that have nothing to do with whether it's free or not. The idea of developing something and then making your solution known. Spread the information so the world can grow from it.

I understand that Wozniak may have had his attention diverted elsewhere for the past few years, but it's almost inexcusable that he can get away with swiping at open source as being all about free (as in beer). That's the argument of the last decade, Wozniak. We've moved on. Maybe you should upgrade your understanding of open source.

I'm not sure if Wozniak was talking about his personal wealth or the industry's wealth, but open source is all about creating value - both in terms of dollars saved and dollars created. By some estimates, it has created more than 12 billion Euros worth of value already, and that's just for Europe, and doubles its code base every 18-24 months. That is one heck of a lot of "wealth." Maybe it's not sitting in Wozniak's pocket, because that wealth is broadly distributed.

Frankly, it's also sitting in mine. And in the pockets of many readers of this blog. Open source pays great dividends, thank you very much.

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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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