Why Does FOSS Development Lag the Innovation Curve?

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 23, 2010

Are open source developers on the ball about delivering alternatives to cutting-edge proprietary products and services, or do they lag the proprietary innovators? That topic came up at this week's OSCON conference in Portland, and there is a case to be made for the idea that open source developers don't deliver key products in key categories fast enough.

Computerworld notes that GNOME Foundation executive director Stormy Peters said, "When it comes to Web services, we've gotten lazy." But aren't there many other categories where open source entries in hot categories just don't show up on time?

Consider the incredible boom in social networking platforms that we've seen in recent years. The facts are staggering. Facebook just announced it hit 500 million users, so many that if it were a country, it would be the third most populated one in the world. Twitter has dominion that extends far beyond technologists and tinkerers, appealing to celebrities and mommy bloggers alike.

Where are the truly competitive open source social networking products. Sure, there is Idneti.ca, but it doesn't have anywhere near the reach of Twitter. We've written before about why open social platforms can make a lot of sense, but all that arrives are half-baked projects such as Diaspora.

There are other categories where open source development seriously lags. This week, I noted that there are hardly any open source speech recognition projects to take seriously. So what are the explanations for this development lag? Are most open source projects simply cobbled together from existing parts, limiting any opportunity to deliver brand new ideas? Weigh in in the comments.