Marketing commons

Posted on Tue 18 November 2008

Today I was at the Eclipse Marketing Symposium that was held as part as the Eclipse Summit Europe close to Stuttgart (Germany). I was an invited speaker there, giving a talk on the various business opportunities I discovered and explored in my 10 years of involvement in the open source world. This symposium was gathering marketing people from companies members of the Eclipse Foundation to share experiences and discuss how to best promote the use of the Eclipse open source framework as the base of customer projects.

Apache and Eclipse are very different when it comes to their relation with companies. Apache only knows about individuals, even if it is well-known that most often their contributions wouldn’t be possible without, and are driven by, the company that employs these individuals. Apache therefore cares a lot about diversity that ensures a long term viability of projects, and isn’t really concerned with the business ecosystem that exists around them.

Eclipse on the other hand, has a membership consisting mostly in companies (individuals can be members too, but it’s more the exception rather than the rule). So as much as Apache has formed a strong community of individuals, Eclipse has formed a community of companies, that are now working together to define strategies and actions to promote their Eclipse-related activities. The foundation itself has interests in making sure these activities flourish, since this is how it ensures its members continue contributing. One of the outcomes of the symposium was the need for a common set of presentations, document templates, success stories around Eclipse-related projects, and the willingness to create these documents so that every member company can use them to convince their customer to go for Eclipse-based solutions.

So after open source, we see here the emergence of open marketing, with companies building together “marketing commons” for their mutual benefit. There has been some attempts in doing similar things in the Apache world, namely with Orixo, but that did not really succeed. In this case, it’s more likely to be successful since it happens within the Eclipse Foundation and with its oversight, with a collaboration on common assets rather than a collaboration on customer projects, where market or revenue share issues can block the good will of people.

It will be interesting to follow this collaborative marketing activity, see how it works and if it succeeds. It would be nice to see the open source collaboration model extended to new areas within companies.

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