Is LibreOffice Exaggerating User Data?

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 31, 2012

Not long ago during The LibreOffice Conference, Florian Effenberger announced that LibreOffice had nearly 60 million users. It's an impressive number, yet entirely plausible to most readers.  However, Rob Weir isn't most readers. He's a notable proponent of the Open Document Format and OpenOffice, among the many other impressive entries on his résumé. He says those numbers don't add up to him.

Weir began his post by saying, "If this were merely yet another case of puffery from the LibreOffice marketing department then I might just let it go, as I have with many other similar claims in the past couple of years. But to the extent that some people seem to take these claims as facts, and are repeating, them, then I hope I will be forgiven for giving truth a chance to be heard. I'll lay out the numbers as I know them and let you be the judge."

Weir first states that OpenOffice downloads numbers are all open and transparent whereas LibreOffice numbers can only be verified by "their project's leadership." Then he compares the download claims against OpenOffice records which say "OpenOffice had accumulated 18,207,610 downloads. You need to take the time interval into consideration. The LibreOffice counts were from January, 2011. The OpenOffice counts were from May, 2012. So in just a few months OpenOffice was downloaded as many times as LibreOffice was in its first two years.
If we convert to an average daily download rate we see:

* LibreOffice: 18,000,000 in 611 days = 29,460 per day
* Apache OpenOffice: 18,207,610 in 143 days = 127,326 per day

So the download rate has been 4x greater for Apache OpenOffice, and shows no sign of slowing." In addition Weir points out that downloads do not equate "users" and upgrades tend to inflate the count, since they are counted twice or how-ever-many updates they've downloaded.  Weir further believes the number of Linux users claimed by LibreOffice is at best suspect.

In summary, Weir concludes, "Under a series of implausible assumptions, LibreOffice claims an additional 30 million users on Linux. The actual number is unknown, but likely far less. But since Linux desktops are only 3% of the desktop market, and that market is shrinking, this is not a realistic growth opportunity for LibreOffice."