[ILUG-BOM] Huge New Study On Free/Open Software

Frederick Noronha fred@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Sat Jan 20 05:42:51 IST 2007


Wednesday, 17 January 2007
Huge New Study On Free/Open Software
Topic: software

There's an interesting, albeit rather long, new study
available from an international, interdisciplinary team of researchers
that documents Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) and its
economic influences on the EU.

The full text of the 287 page report, entitled "Economic impact of
open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU," is
available online (PDF). The report provides the most thorough and
comprehensive look at the contributions of the FLOSS community that
I've ever seen.

While most of the statics and numbers are geared toward the EU and
European nations in general (the lead contractor of the study was
UNU-MERIT from the Netherlands), the study nevertheless provides a
fascinating look at free software and its impact on the world at

Particularly stunning is the estimated time to reproduce this software
in proprietary format (131,000 person years) and the estimated amount
of donated programming effort in monetary terms (800 million Euros per

Here's some more highlights pulled straight from the text (emphasis mine):

* Almost two-thirds of FLOSS software is still written by individuals;
firms contribute about 15% and other institutions another 20%.

* Europe is the leading region in terms of globally collaborating
FLOSS software developers, and leads in terms of global project
leaders, followed closely by North America (interestingly, more in the
East Coast than the West). Asia and Latin America.

* The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable
quality control and distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12
billion to reproduce internally. This code base has been doubling
every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is
projected to continue for several more years.

* This existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of
about 131 000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted
exclusively by programmers. As this is mostly by individuals not
directly paid for development, it represents a significant gap in
national accounts of productivity. Annualised and adjusted for growth
this represents at least Euro 800 million in voluntary contribution
from programmers alone each year, of which nearly half are based in

* Firms have invested an estimated Euro 1.2 billion in developing
FLOSS software that is made freely available. Such firms represent in
total at least 565 000 jobs and Euro 263 billion in annual revenue.
Contributing firms are from several non-IT (but often ICT intensive)
sectors, and tend to have much higher revenues than non-contributing

* Defined broadly, FLOSS-related services could reach a 32% share of
all IT services by 2010, and the FLOSS-related share of the economy
could reach 4% of European GDP by 2010.

* Proprietary packaged software firms account for well below 10% of
employment of software developers in the U.S., and "IT user" firm
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