Remember how Amazon, Uber and Airbnb ran over physical retail, taxis and hotels with no one understanding what was happening to them?
If you are in the business of creating technology, designs, processes or education, you’ve got a similar tsunami coming that will force you to rethink your business.
And this tsunami is Open Source.
Once there is an open source alternative to your offering in the market you are either really premium (and that might not even save you), or you are pretty much done.
So you’ll need to invest or participate in it if you don’t want to disappear.
Here are some examples:
Wikipedia took over Encyclopedia Britannica.
WordPress represents 60% of all CMS, and powers 30% of the internet websites, becoming the de facto standard over closed, yet free options as Tumblr, Weebly, Blogger, Wix or Shopify.
Arduino, Adafruit, Sparkfun have become the go to option for DIY makers, even if they’re not the cheapest option available.
Apache and Nginx represent 58% of the web server market, winning this race against Microsoft or Google.
Open Source 3D printers like Lulzbot or RepRap derivatives have dominated the 3D printing market for years now.
“Fun” fact: Maker bot was the market dominant while open source, once it closed its project.
But this also applies to non-software or hardware services:
Unsplash gets 12 images downloaded per second, more than double of Shutterstock (5.5 images per second).
Google Fonts and Font Awesome represent 94,5% of the font market.
Free Code Camp is taking over many developer courses on the Internet like Code Academy or Udacity.
No stats here, but TED must be dominating the market of online conferences thanks to its TEDx open source strategy.
How is that possible?
Inviting communities to study, modify and even sell your product or service seems like a very bad idea that makes you lose control of your project. But it’s not. It’s the easiest way for your idea to spread and get an audience. It’s the easiest way to get people to help you correct and build it. And it’s the easiest way to be the good guy.
Open sourcing your projects is counterintuitive. It feels like you’re giving everything away, but that’s just if you can’t think of anything to get paid for.
The paradox is that if you fail to open and someone comes and creates a decent open source alternative to your empowering tool, they’ll eat your lunch,and find another way to make a living from it.
Most people who don’t understand open source can’t see it yet. But open source is like digital transition. As soon as you open source your tool, you could multiply a hundredfold what you’re able to do on your own and experience unprecedented growth and impact.
If you’re a small company or a big brand who eventually became digital, I can see how shifting your resources from traditional to digital five years ago was probably scary. I can see how bringing a Digital Consultant probably got you a few strange looks around the boardroom table. I could see how parts of your business changed so much, they hardly looked the same anymore.
If you do quality work and you treat more openly your users than your “closed” or “paid” competition, then people will obviously come to you. Once they come and build on top of what you are doing, you’ll have a project much more valuable than you could ever have dreamt of.
But however fast you thought things were moving before, and how difficult it was to start making those changes, get ready. Because Open Source is the new digital.
And things are about to move a whole lot faster.
PS: Big up to Diderik Van Wingerden, Christian Villum, Julie Hjort and Mads Ohland-Andersen from the REMODEL progam who sparked the conversation around this idea of the nightmare competitor. Thank you guys 🙂
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