To Master Tech You Must Master Software - And Open Source - Even If You're Apple

Jim Zemlin | | September 26, 2012

During my keynote at LinuxCon, I showed a picture of five smart phones from five different manufacturers with their screens blacked out. Think you could tell them apart? Without a UI they are all virtually indistinguishable from each other. When their screens are enabled, it’s easy to tell the difference between Blackberry’s and iPhone's, Samsung’s Android devices and Nokia’s Windows based machine. My point? Software is where the heart of differentiation lies.

The leaders in technology understand this. Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz had a brilliant op ed last year in The Wall Street Journal about how software is eating the world. He’s right. To master technology you must master software.

But there is a corollary: To master technology you must master open source. The real leaders in tech are understanding that to go it alone and develop software in a company cloister is foolish, expensive and time intensive. It’s also a great way to lose market and financial share. Just ask RIM and Nokia, two of the most prominent and last remaining examples of companies who don’t leverage open source prominently in their products. Nokia, which chose to bet it all on Microsoft, has seen its share price dwindle over the last two years. And RIM, which purchased a proprietary version of Unix in QNX, teeters on a fiscal cliff...