What is the Tipping Point for Open Source?
If you work with or around your company’s IT department, chances are you know someone that is an absolute evangelist for open source. The concept of putting your code out there for the world to see and improve upon has become a philosophy that a growing number of tech enthusiasts are beginning to embrace, but where is that tipping point that takes open source software from the point of being an occasional alternative to the industry standard?
Video Editing Recently, Lightworks has announced plans to make their robust and award winning video editing program open source. Unlike a lot of open source software on the market, Lightworks comes as a professional-grade program with a background in award winning video production. Being freely available, if it has the functionality to go head-to-head with Final Cut Pro, Avis, or Adobe Premiere, could it compete to become the industry standard in low-budget video production? Down the line, could it capture a larger share in the blockbuster film industry?
Office Software Office software has been thus far dominated by Microsoft’s Office Suite. Open Office has been improving over the years and is beginning to gain ground in the battle for market dominance. Being free, it makes me wonder why more companies aren’t taking advantage of the deal. After all, in today’s world are the extra little tidbit features of Office really that necessary?
Audio Editing The world of audio editing is driven by programs like Pro Tools and Adobe Audition. Currently, the biggest player in the open source world is Audacity. I’ve mentioned before a few features that would make Audacity a serious contender for Adobe Audition’s market share, but as of right now there isn’t a lot of competition for Pro Tools in the world of open source.
Photo and Graphics PhotoShop leads the graphics world by leaps and bounds. It’s become such a popular tools for creating and improving images that the word PhotoShop acts as a verb in the English language meaning improving or altering images.
Currently, the biggest open source competition to Adobe’s product is Gimp. Gimp has an impressive feature set, but it falls short too often to become a viable replacement. At one point, a derivative of Gimp called GimpShop was created to mimic PhotoShop’s layout in order to make the transition easier for seasoned PhotoShop users.
Browsers For the longest time, Microsoft Internet Explorer has been the heavy hitter in the realm of browsers. Over the past five years, open source contenders like Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome projects have slammed their way in to the browser battles and in some cases surpassed IE. As I’m writing this, Firefox 4 has overtaken Internet Explorer 9 while IE 8 and Firefox 3.5 are within mere percentage points of each other.
Operating Systems The debate between Windows, OS X, and Linux is practically a religious one among the tech minded. Linux is given a bad wrap because of its low market share and lack of a single primary contender. Unfortunately, the debate isn’t limited to the main OS types. The debate over which Linux distribution (distro) is best is just about as heated as the other. This scattering has put a severe damper on Linux’s ability to cross over from a server and fringe platform to something more.
Not only are there seemingly hundreds of distributions out there, but each one typically has multiple derivatives that branch off at various points of development.
Currently, Ubuntu has made great strides towards bringing Linux to a wider market of home users. By being distributed through OEMs such as Dell, the OS has become more of a household name and less of another small fish in a giant pool of distros.
Open source software has come a long way in the past few years, gaining ground and proving that a community can come together and build something great. Whether or not open source software will become an industry standard among professionals for anything beyond web hosting is, only time will tell.