Arsenal sign "Dudu" and the under-hyping of open source

Open source is actually under-hyped, given its potential for completely changing the way we sell and support software.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

Arsenal just lost Thierry Henry, the greatest striker in a generation, and replaced him with...Dudu? Eduardo da Silva (aka "Dudu" was born in Brazil, but is a Croatian national) scored 34 goals in 32 games (Don't try that at home, kids). In true Arsene Wenger (Arsenal manager) fashion, Arsenal went for the unheralded da Silva over the over-hyped Eto'o, Owen, Torres, etc.

What does this have to do with open source? Well, not much. (Let's be honest: I just needed some happy Arsenal thoughts. :-) But I do think that open source could be the da Silva of software. Both over-hyped and under-hyped at the same time. Over-hyped in some places (Croatia??? :-), and under-hyped in others (everywhere else).

I spend an inordinate amount of time talking open source with fellow open sourcerors and denizens of the Old World (i.e., proprietary software companies). We talk constantly about open source and its impact on the world of software.

But with open source taking a rounding error of a percentage of total software sales, it clearly has a lot of room to grow. The vast majority of software users still don't know much about open source, and probably won't until it's conveniently packaged and priced at $9.95 at your local Wal-Mart, Carrefour, etc. Open source, to me, is vastly under-hyped relative to its potential.

For those unbelievers out there, spend a little time considering every other business on the planet. Guess what? By a huge majority they are service-driven businesses. Sure, there's some IP thrown into many of them, but it's not what medical, oil & gas, restaurants, construction, etc. companies get paid for. They get paid for serving customers, and any copyrights or patents that play a role in these businesses are secondary to the customer experience.

Open source represents this next phase of IT, where vendors actually have to care about their customers as more than a signature on a license. We could keep trying to make do with last year's superstars, but it's better to be on the cutting edge of the customer adoption curve. That's open source in software and, I'm hoping, that's da Silva for Arsenal.