The Importance of Being There
One of the themes running through my thinking about open source has been the application of "traditional" economic and business principles to open source. At EclipseCon '07 I made a presentation about some of these ideas, and I have another blog in which I'm continuing the conversation. This week I noticed another of these parallels: the importance of location.
"Location, location, location" is an old adage about the importance of finding the right physical spot for your business. Likewise, in business strategy/marketing there's a lot of talk about "positioning," which can be seen as creating the impression of a location in the customer's mind. Online and in the virtual competitive landscape of open source, location matters too. There's a great advantage to being an Eclipse.org project, and there are a number of prime "real estate" spots as well.
So, I found it interesting that there's a bit of uproar about Sun's perceived attempt to conflate Java and NetBeans. Sun has a great location here: when you go to download Java, you're going to a site associated with Sun, and that's powerful since there's a lot of people interested in Java. Next, you see information about NetBeans in the same location, sort of being positioned like "this is the IDE for Java development." Especially if you're new to Java, you might not look elsewhere. Would the Java download site that offers NetBeans ever say something like "Here's a few free Java IDEs -- Eclipse, NetBeans, etc.?" Somehow, I doubt it, but the uproar cited in the article might bring some pressure to bear. I mean, if I owned the most obvious (but not only) gas station just outside the car rental return at an airport, wouldI put a map up highlighting my competitor's location as well?
Maybe the Java/NetBeans issue is different: the attempt to build an open source community might force that map to competitors, and that would be interesting to see...