I enjoyed OSBC last week, though I thought it was a bit pricey for what we got. Simon Phipps' presentation was very good indeed (plus he attacked IP indemnification firms as pointless scare-mongers); I enjoyed Trolltech's Eirik Chambe-Eng laying into Symbian, stating that Linux can scale down better and is more attractive for low-end phones (some bloke from Symbian stood up at the end, a bit miffed); Ian Howells from Alfresco had some interesting points about how the Enterprise Content Management market is ripe for exploitation by open source (monolithic, 15 year old code bases in existing systems are the opposite of agile); Mark Fleury bristled through the panel sessions; and Brian Behlendorf said some interesting stuff about using open source style development in large software houses (though the audience wasn't particularly responsive). Also met a couple of nice chaps from Sun.
A few observations:
- The presence of masses of people from Symbian gives a hint that they are a bit scared about what open source might do to the phone market.
- The audience seemed polarised between people and companies who "get" open source (Brian Behlendorf, Trolltech, Alfresco, Funambol, JBoss), and dived in long ago; and companies who are dipping their toes and either running away because the water's cold or standing there expecting armbands to be provided by "the community" (Microsoft, obviously; J.P. Morgan; Philips Medical Systems).
- It's a bit distressing to see that IP issues are still the main stumbling block for larger firms, and that talks with titles like "Risks Propriety Software Vendors Face in Using Open Source" still attract a lot of people. I feel like the issue is not really about protecting yourself from open source: it's more about joining the party with the right attitude. This is where Sun have got it right by employing a "conscience" like Simon Phipps.
- I attended one session about open standards, where proprietary vendors were attempting to defend standards with royalties attached. Why can't we have royalty-free standards (good for consumers), and let proprietary vendors compete with proprietary standards if they choose to? Would the internet be the massive monument to human ingenuity it now is if it had been proprietary? (gopher, anyone?). I would love to see the proprietary, non-free "standards"-based GSM mobile phone market (for example) decimated by cheap phones based on Linux using VOIP over WiMax. (I hate mobile phones in their current incarnation: the antithesis of free.)