Strategic Marketing Plan

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Welcome to the Strategic Marketing Plan for the Marketing Project. Copies of the marketing plan are available at in a variety of formats. This section of the wiki has been setup to transfer a copy of the plan to this site.

Cover Page


Table of Contents


What this Plan is...

This document is the first published Strategic Marketing Plan for the office productivity suite. Its publication is timed to coincide with the run-up to the second major release of, version 2.0. The Plan follows a three-month consultation process with the whole Community, and seeks formal adoption by the Community Council at the end of 2004.

The Plan looks at the current market for office productivity suites, at the major players in the field, and seeks to identify trends which will influence the market over the next five years. It looks at’s place within the market now, and where it should aim to be by 2010.

The analysis looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the suite, and how these should help influence the Community’s response to opportunities and threats in the marketplace.

It also looks in detail at the features of and the benefits these deliver to customers. From this analysis, the Plan identifies a number of target markets whose needs are most closely matched by the benefits provided by

Finally, the Plan sets targets for penetration by into these target markets, and lists the main strategies which the Marketing Project proposes to achieve these goals.

...and what it is not

This document is not a Strategic Marketing Plan for the Community. Just as the software needs to attract users, so the Community needs to attract contributors who want to help the Community achieve its mission statement. This will be the subject of a separate Plan.


As the Plan continues to evolve, the latest version will be available on the Marketing Project web site: Comments and contributions are always welcome in the Marketing Project’s strategy discussion forum - see the Project web pages for an archive and details of how to participate.

Community Review


StarDivision, the original author of the StarOffice suite of software, was founded in Germany in the mid-1980s. Its StarOffice product developed over the next decade into a fully-fledged office productivity suite (spreadsheet, word processor, graphics, presentations) comprising over 7.5 million lines of code, and equalling in functionality the market-leading product (Microsoft Office).

The company was acquired by Sun Microsystems Inc during the summer of 1999, and StarOffice 5.2 was released in June of 2000(1). That same year, Sun made the momentous decision to open-source(2) the product as 1.0 and kick-start the Community (the Community) to support, develop, and promote the software under open-source principles(3). At the same time, Sun decided to use the same codebase as the foundation for the continuing commercial StarOffice product.


The Community(ii) was set up with the following mission statement: Mission Statement To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format.

Success Criteria

The Community’s Success Criteria are derived directly from the mission statement:

  1. to grow a world wide Community capable of maintaining, developing, supporting, and promoting
  2. to develop to provide all the features expected from a world class office productivity suite
  3. to grow the market share of to a position of leadership
  4. to design to support easy translation into any language (including complex text and vertical writing languages), and provide translations and support in local languages worldwide
  5. to encourage porting to any computing platform capable of running the software (MS-Windows - all variants; Unix variants - e.g. Sun Solaris; Linux - all significant distributions; Apple Mac; etc)
  6. to architect on a modular basis, callable from all major programming languages, and document fully all APIs(4).
  7. to store all data in published XML formats and work with standards bodies to ensure compliance with emerging standards for office documents(5).

[ii]In this document, the term is always used to mean the software; the term the Community is used to refer to the project.

Community Goals

Financial Independence
There are various business models for sustaining open-source activities. One model, used by Red Hat, is to charge customers subscription fees for services and support around free software. Open-source database company MySQL has a commercial licence for customers who want a support contract and a separate open-source licence(6). Other companies, such as toolmaker Zend Technologies, charge for commercial products that are more functional than the open-source versions of their software. The Linux kernel itself is now developed largely by corporate employees(7).

As of today (2004), both and the Community are heavily dependent on the support of Sun for their continued survival. The Community has set itself a challenge to become completely self-sufficient, and rely on volunteer effort and/or funds generated by the Community. Given the changing patterns within the global IT industry, this is a desirable position for the Community to be in. However, the challenge of reaching full financial and legal autonomy is not to be underestimated.

Organisational Maturity
As of summer 2004, some projects within the Community are well-supported and successful - for example, the native language projects are providing support for over 30 languages. Overall the Community is still immature in terms of governance, organisation, and ability to reach consensus and mobilise around an agreed plan. The creation of this Strategic Marketing Plan by the Community’s Marketing Project (the Project) is part of this Community development process. It is recognised that the Community itself will need to change in order to adopt this Plan and those from other projects.

Marketing Goals

The Project has sole or joint responsibility for the first five of the success criteria listed above. In the five years since launch, has been highly successful in attracting downloads(8) and distribution. However, its share of the global office productivity suite market is probably no more than a few percent(9), with Microsoft’s Office product (MS-Office) the firmly entrenched market leader.

Studies have shown the difficulty of replacing an established brand leader in conventional products. For example, one study was made of 25 brands that held the number one position. Sixty years later, 20 of those 25 brands still held the number one position. Similarly, studies show that historically, the top three brands in a product category typically occupy market share in a ratio of 4:2:1. Gartner Group predicted in May 2002 that the codebase could eventually reach 10% market share(10).

On the other hand, academics such as Christensen have demonstrated that under certain conditions, newcomers can dethrone even the most firmly entrenched market leader (see A Game Plan for Disruptive Marketing). The project believes that with targeted marketing, can fit the criteria of being a ‘disruptive technology’, and that the ambition of being ‘the leading international office suite’ is achievable within the five year timescales of this Plan.

By 2010, the Project’s goal is for the codebase to be in a position of market leadership (>50%) in all its target markets; for it to be the office suite of choice for a majority of all PC users; and for it to be in use by a significant percentage (>40%) of all office users worldwide. The analysis behind these targets is explained in Target 2010.

Product Goals

Thanks to the long history of development, is a mature product and independent reviewers acknowledge that it ‘provides the core functionality that most users need’(11). The Community’s goal is for to stay in this position of meeting all the needs of the typical ‘office’ user; to offer a simple and clean migration path from significant competitors; and to be available to users on the platform and in the language of their choosing.

The roles of the Marketing Project in meeting this product goal are primarily those of ensuring product development meets the evolving needs of users, and attracting members to the Community who will become active in any aspect of the Community’s activities. As explained earlier, this Plan looks at the first of those roles.

Market Review

It is a truism that a PC is useless without software. Once an operating system has been installed, a PC can be used to run application software. While there is a market for PCs running specialised applications, the majority of PCs sold are used to run one or more ‘office’ applications for at least some of the time.

The potential market for office suites providing these applications is therefore almost as big as the market for PCs, and growing at the same dramatic rate (see Target 2010).

Currently, the market is dominated by the Microsoft Windows (MS-Windows) operating system, and within this platform, the dominant office suite by far is Microsoft Office (MS-Office) in its different versions.

Market Segmentation

What is an Office Suite
The concept of an office suite arose out of the limitations of legacy computing technologies. Word processors, spreadsheets, and drawing packages each met generic office user needs; bundling them together made good commercial sense. So, in features(iii) terms, an office suite is typically a bundle of a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentations package with a similar look and feel and interoperability.

However, in benefits terms, the Project would define an office suite as a single package that helps a large population address the most common tasks in their working lives. In today’s internet-enabled offices suggests that the conventional trinity of applications is no longer sufficient. The Project contends that a single package that helps a large population address the most common tasks in their working lives is incomplete without at least email and web browser capabilities.

Types of Office Suite
Providing different ‘flavours’ of office suite enables COTS2 software vendors to achieve marketing goals including targeting different markets, introducing differential pricing, or extending the life of products.

Entry Level
These software packages provide basic ‘office’ functionality within a single offering (e.g. Microsoft Works). The Project contends that users are constrained into this segment by one or more limiting factors, such as: price (the user cannot afford anything better); requirements (the user’s needs are completely met by the product); hardware (the users PC cannot run bigger software); knowledge (the user believes they can only use this product); and so on.
Full Function
The usual definition of office ‘suite’ refers to more powerful separate packages which inter-operate closely with a common look and feel (e.g. MS-Office with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint).
‘Professional’ editions of office suites add in other packages, for example, databases and photo-editors.
Internet enabled
Increasingly, customers expect office suites to also provide internet capabilities such as:
  • web browser / html editing
  • email
  • groupware (e.g. shared calendars)

According to the definitions above, falls between the Full Function and Professional market segments, with some elements of internet enablement.

StarOffice and
Sun Microsystems’ decision to open-source the codebase has created a de-facto segmentation of the market by licence, with the same underlying codebase available under open-source licencing (as and as a COTS product (StarOffice).

The two different product offerings are targeted at two different market segments, although there is a considerable ‘grey area’ in between.

Some typical key differentiators are as follows:

Reasons for preferring StarOffice to
  • A user currently has a proprietary licenced competitive COTS product, and prefers to continue to use proprietary licences
  • Company policy forbids open-source software
  • There is a requirement to purchase world-class support from a large vendor
  • A company needs the security of having a large corporate supplier to sue if anything goes wrong
  • A user needs the additional commercial products included in StarOffice (fonts, Adabas database, etc.)
Reasons for preferring to StarOffice
  • A user does not currently have a licenced competitive COTS product
  • StarOffice is not available in the user’s local language/on their chosen platform
  • An organisation wants to minimise its acquisition cost
  • A user believes in the principle of open-source software
  • An organisation would like to be able to give away copies of the software (e.g. to students, employees, etc.)

Other products using the codebase

The open-source licence allows the codebase to be used as the basis of other software products, both free or commercial (although there are some restrictions on how the code can be used).

Products have already emerged based on the codebase, for example, versions targeted at particular sectors(12), or geographies(13), or operating systems(14). Sun Microsystems have also actively encouraged the emergence of commercial products based on the codebase (AOL Office, Novell Office, Lycoris Office, etc)

Given the diversity of the open-source development community, it is also inevitable that other development streams will emerge. For example, the Ximian ‘fork’ of has attracted contributions from the Fedora and Debian communities, some of whose developers are uncomfortable with the Community licence / development model, or with software which has any dependencies on non-free software (such as Java).

The Project considers that these developments all contribute to the adoption of the codebase, and as such are welcomed. However, the Project’s main focus is on the branded product, and as such has adopted the following principles in respect of third party products.

  • All users of the codebase are actively encouraged to give prominence to the fact they are based on the codebase.
  • On a reciprocal basis, the Project should use third party brands to build product credibility (AOL is a bigger consumer brand than or Sun Microsystems).
  • Any improvements to the codebase should be fed back into the Community.
  • Organisations using the codebase for commercial ends should also be encouraged to feed back to the Community either in kind or in cash.
  • The Community should work to remove any barriers which prevent organisations or individuals contributing to the Community.

[iii]See Features and Benefits

Disruptive Technologies

Marketing Goals noted that delivering the Community’s Mission Statement means creating disruptive change in the marketplace. The seminal text on disruptive change - The Innovator’s Solution(16) provides some strategy guidelines for identifying target markets:

A Game Plan for Disruptive Marketing
Target only those customers and markets that look unattractive to every established competitor. If an idea is sustaining (an improved version of an already available and popular product) relative to even a single competitor, the idea will not succeed as a disruption.

Try to compete against nonconsumption: customers who are currently unable to use currently available products at all, either because they can’t afford them or are too inexperienced to use them. These markets have the most potential because these customers will compare your product to having nothing at all, and so will be thrilled to buy it even if it’s inferior to currently available products.

If there are no nonconsumers available, explore the feasibility of a low-end disruption instead: customers who can’t use all the functionality they currently have to pay for and who won’t pay premium prices for upgraded products. If this isn’t possible either, and you’re not an industry incumbent, don’t invest in the idea.

When searching for ideas with disruptive potential, look for ways to help customers get done more conveniently and inexpensively what they are already trying to do. Don’t invent new problems for customers to solve - they won’t reprioritise what’s important in their lives just because your product is available.

The Project plans to address both overserved users and non-consumers. Many overserved users who are considering upgrading do not use all the features of their current office suite. These users are ripe for the message that provides the full-featured office suite functions at a lower (or no) cost. Non-consumers are rampant in countries with annual incomes below $10,000 – about five sixths of the world’s population. For these potential users, even $100 would be too expensive for an office suite.

Within these guidelines, the Project has identified a number of market segments where the benefits of using provide a particularly good match to the needs of the market. It has also identified a number of segments where the fit is less good. A detailed analysis of the product features of and the benefits perceived by users is given below in Features and Benefits. The full analysis of the target markets is given below in Market Segmentation.

Product Review suite consists of four major applications:

  • Writer - word processor
  • Calc - spreadsheet
  • Impress - presentations
  • Draw - graphics

Writer also operates as a web page (HTML) editor.

These applications were originally a single ‘desktop’ within StarOffice which has now been separated into four applications. This gives them a high degree of commonality (more so than MS-Office, which started life as separate packages which have been blended together).

In addition, there are three utilities which operate across the major components:

  • a mathematical formula editor
  • macro / Basic programming language
  • Data Access tools for working with SQL databases does not contain:

  • email / calendar tools
  • a web browser
  • a database (although dBase format tables can be used out of the box with’s Data Access tools)

Independent reviews rate as capable as its competitors in terms of functionality(17). However, it does lack some end-user ‘extras’ such as printed manuals, templates, clip-art libraries, etc. is available for the following platforms:

  • Microsoft Windows (98, NT, ME, 2000 and XP)
  • GNU/Linux
  • Sun Solaris 8 Operating Environment
  • Mac OS X Darwin PPC (within X)

Some of the newer features require installation of a Java Runtime Environment (JRE). is available in over 30 languages.

Distribution can be downloaded free of charge from the website or worldwide mirrors. Many Linux distributions now include, although some have removed some functionality for licencing reasons. It is also bundled by some hard/removable disk drive and PC manufacturers. can also be obtained on CD in different forms in different markets:

  • some public libraries stock and loan the software
  • commercial distributors offer the product for sale
  • it has appeared on cover CDs with magazines
  • it appears in software bundles such as the OpenCD

Features and Benefits

It is a marketing axiom that consumers do not choose a product on the features that it offers, but on the benefits (real or perceived) that it brings.

This section lists the distinctive features of and the benefits that these bring to users.

Feature Benefit
Open-source license No license fees to pay for installation or upgrade
No license/compliance hassles or need for software audits
Can be given away free
Source code can be inspected for 'trojans', etc.
Individuals or companies can contribute directly to product development or supplying a missing feature
Open APIs Can be included in other software
Extensive help system Easy to learn and use without requiring external documentation
MS-Office file compatability Easy to migrate
Easy to exchange documents with MS-Office users
MS-Office look and feel Operations are similar enough to make migration easy
Creates PDF's Saves buying Adobe Acrobat
What you send is what people receive
Issue documents as 'read only'
Open XML file formats Data can be easily used in other software products
File format cannot be 'time-expired' by a vendor
File contents can be examined for 'unwanted' content using simple PC tools
Compression means files typically are smaller than MS-Office equivalents
Long development history Stable product, less liable to crash
Origins as a single integrated product Open any file from any application
Common user interface across all component
Cross platform Good product to teach/learn: learn once, use anywhere
Free to choose where you run it
Multiple language support Likely to be available in your language
Designed to be multi-lingual Easy to translate
Community support Direct access to developers
Community is not just a coding project Lots of possibilities for contributors
Not Microsoft Monopoly suppliers generate strong feelings
Network or single install Equally suite for home users or institutional users
Advanced user features, e.g. stylesheets Also suited for power users - e.g. Writer can product complete books

Competitor Review

This section looks at alternatives to using

Microsoft Office

MS-Office is the biggest player in the office suite market. The product’s market dominance is such that any potential competitor has to be able to demonstrate a migration path from and interoperability with MS-Office:

Migration from MS-Office requires ability to re-use MS-Office documents
must be easy to use by people already familiar with MS-Office
Interoperability with MS-Office requires ability to read and write MS-Office documents

MS-Office has its roots in three quite separate software packages rather than as a single office suite, and there are places where the joins still show.

Microsoft Inc
Microsoft are a one of the largest corporations in the world with huge financial resources and legendary marketing prowess. Their virtual monopoly of the desktop PC operating system marketi means they have the resources to make mistakes - e.g. covering losses in the games machine market while they refine their product offering.

On the other hand corporations of this size and market dominance make enemies (see box)

Some Reluctant Microsoft Customers
  • corporations who do not like dealing with monopoly suppliers
  • governments who dislike companies with a turnover exceeding their own GNP
  • individuals who resent the wealth of prominent Microsoft employees
  • trading blocs with open market / anti-monopoly policies

Microsoft Office
MS-Office is sold in a variety of different formats in different markets and at different times. It is also periodically relaunched as an upgraded or enhanced product. As many corporate users sign up for multiyear upgrade contracts, Microsoft has a considerable interest in allowing no more than three years - the maximum length of a multiyear contract - between versions.

Microsoft report sales of MS-Office within their ‘Information Worker’ business segment - an over $1,000 million business in 2004. Microsoft recognise three separate revenue streams from the ‘Information Worker’ business segment: original licence sales (approx 40% of total revenues); licence upgrades / maintenance contracts (40%); and software ‘bundled’ with new PCs (about 20%).

MS-Office is sold in a variety of different editions, with increasing features for increasing cost, for example:


  • Excel (spreadsheet)
  • Outlook (email client)
  • PowerPoint (presentations)
  • Word (word processor)

Small Business
as Standard, plus:

  • Business Contact Manager (for Outlook)
  • Publisher (desktop publisher)

as Business, plus:

  • XML support (for Word)
  • Access (database)

In terms of functionality, independent reviews agree there is very little to choose between and MS-Office ‘Standard’ for the vast majority of users, although lacks the templates, clip-art etc. bundled with MS-Office.

Platforms and Languages
MS-Office is available for MS-Windows and also as Microsoft Office for Mac (the Mac editions are slightly different from the MS-Windows editions). MS-Office is available for over 35 localised versions.

Microsoft - theoretically - operates a single price list world wide. However, there are many examples of it offering substantial discounts when forced to do so to safeguard market share, while maintaining the convenient fiction of a single price (see Competitive Position below). Large volume enterprise customers are also offered substantial discountsii, and in many markets ‘educational’ versions are available at substantial discounts.

Microsoft has a massive marketing budget and promotes its products widely throughout the world and throughout all the different media types. Its estimated advertising spend is between $5,000-$10,000 million per annum. Spend typically peaks towards the launch of new products / re-launch of existing products (e.g. the launch of Windows XP and the Xbox clocked up $1,500 million).

Microsoft’s goal is to dominate the office suite market in the same was as it has dominated the desktop operating systems market. Dominating the office suite market does not have quite the same sensitivities as the operating systems market, giving Microsoft more room for manoeuvre without incurring the wrath of competition regulators.

Recently announced development plans for MS-Office suggest that Microsoft is seeking to create closer integration between products within the ‘Information Worker’ product group. This would further increase their competitive ‘lock-in’ and discourage migration away from MS-Office to competitive products.

Competitive Position
Microsoft is finding the need to protect its market share from the growth of open-source competition. This has been noticeable at the operating system level, with various ‘knocking’ campaigns against open-source, and most recently (mid 2004) a high-profile campaign to ‘prove’ that open-source is a more expensive computing platform than Microsoft. In at least one country, this campaign fell foul of the national advertising regulatory authority for its blatantly unsupportable claims(20).

Microsoft has also admitted in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commissions that it is prepared to use price cutting to defend market share: “To the extent opens source software gains increasing market acceptance, sales of our products may decline, we may have to reduce the prices we charge for our products, and revenue and operating margins may consequently decline.”(21) has also had a part to play here, with Microsoft reacting to defend its market position whenever has threatened MS-Office’s position:

How Microsoft has responded to competitive threats from
  • after years of inaction, Microsoft has suddenly released new translations of MS-Office in response to local language releases(22)
  • where has proved successful in developing markets, Microsoft has effectively reduced the price of MS-Office with the release of special low cost local editions of MS-Office(23)

WordPerfect Office

WordPerfect Office is owned by Corel, who like Microsoft, has taken separate packages and gradually merged them into an office suite. Corel’s packages consist of a very good word processor (which gives the suite its name), a perfectly respectable spreadsheet, and an alright graphics package(v). The suite offers similar features to (e.g. pdf, html, xml creation), and works hard at providing a smooth migration path from MS-Office with various ‘compatibility’ modes. WordPerfect retains a loyal following in several niche markets, such as the legal profession in several territories.


  • Basic
  • WordPerfect (word processor)
  • Quattro Pro (spreadsheet)
  • Presentations (presentations)

Professional and Education
as above, plus

  • Paradox (relational database)

Platforms and Languages
Support in varying degrees for ‘up to 30 languages’. WordPerfect Office is an MS-Windows application, although a ‘proof of concept’ version of WordPerfect for Linux is in beta testing.

[v] Corel also sells separately a well respected range of graphics products.

Lotus SmartSuite

Lotus SmartSuite is owned by IBM, and sits somewhat uncomfortably among their other Lotus family of products. IBM do not appear to be actively marketing the product, focussing on server-based offerings like Lotus Workplace Documents.

Lotus SmartSuite features these applications:

  • 1-2-3 (spreadsheet)
  • Word Pro (word processor with IBM ViaVoice)
  • Organizer (personal information manager)
  • Freelance Graphics (presentation graphics package)
  • Approach (relational database)

Platforms and Languages
Lotus Smartsuite is available in Global English (sic), French, German, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish. It is an MS-Windows application (including installation via MSI, the Microsoft Software Installer), plus a legacy version is available for OS/2.

Other Office Suites

There are a number of other minor products such as Hancom Office, Ability Office, etc, but few which are genuine multi-platform and international and none which command a significant market share.

Other Competitors

Single-function Office Products
There are also products which may be classed as ‘imperfect competitors’, such as stand alone word-processors, spreadsheets, etc. These are not considered as direct competition in this Plan, although they may offer opportunities for migration of existing users.

Alternatives to Desktop Office Suites
It is also worth noting that the benefits provided by office suites can be provided by mechanisms other than the installation of full applications on a PC.

Server based
There have been a number of attempts to provide office functionality from a central server to thin clients, ranging from dumb terminals, through network PCs/thin clients, to browsers running on PCs. Sun Microsystems has been a keen proponent of network PCs in the pasti, although its enthusiasm seems to have diminished of late. There are rumours IBM may be readying an office suite using this technology - IBM’s new software is designed to be distributed and accessed through a Web serverii. It is not clear whether this is different from their Lotus Workplace Documents product, which offers word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation editors that allow users to edit documents even when the editors with which these documents were originally created are unavailable.

As of now, these products are aimed at niche markets, and so are not considered further in this Plan.

Internet based
A number of attempts have been made to provide office functionality over the internetiv. It is possible that by 2010 wireless and other technologies may have developed sufficiently for this to be a viable alternative. If this happens, then could well form the ‘engine’ behind such a service. However, it is considered too speculative to be considered further in this Plan.

Market Segmentation

This section of the Plan attempts to identify groups of users who have similar needs for an office productivity product. Those whose needs are most closely matched by the benefits provided by will be the most likely candidates for using the product.

Target Markets

Selection of target markets is guided by two main criteria:

  • do the benefits of provide a better match to the market’s needs than the competitors?
  • does the market have the characteristics of an adopter of a disruptive innovation (see A Game Plan for Disruptive Marketing)?

This Plan argues that the benefits provided by are a particularly good match to the needs of the following target markets:

These are the markets where the Community should aim to achieve market domination by the branded product.

Non-target Markets

In addition, there are many markets which will be targets for the codebase under different branding (such as StarOffice). For example, multinational corporations would be a more obvious target for a fully commercially supported product like StarOffice than a community supported product like (see StarOffice and These organisations are more likely to have a heavy investment in competitor products and will require assistance during migration. They will probably also have current volume purchasing agreements in place. These markets would see little benefit in migrating to the branded product

However, it is also recognised that there will be cases where this simplistic target/non-target split will not apply. For example, ‘Government’ is a target market in the OpenOffice list: however, ‘first world’ governments may prefer dealing with a commercial organisation.


Description of the sector
Governments at all levels (supra-national; national / federal; regional / state, local) especially in developing countries. Includes Public Administrations.

Needs and Benefits
The table below shows how the benefits of match the needs of the government sector:

Needs Benefit
Must display openness, compliance, and value for money Effectively free to acquire
No licence/compliance hassles
Can be given away free
Does not want to show partiality towards particular vendors is not ‘owned’ by one commercial organisation
Probably a legacy Microsoft user Easy to migrate
Need to distribute documents widely Saves buying Adobe Acrobat
What you send is what people receive
Issue documents as ‘read only’
Long term data retention You own your data - future proof
Multi-ethnic support Likely to be available in your language
Worried about US software companies No hidden back doors, trojans, etc
Monopoly suppliers generate strong feelings

Routes to Market
Most likely to be receptive to lobbying through local activists, opinion formers, political party members. Requires Community members on the ground and familiar with the market.

Special Needs
StarOffice is a realistic alternative in most affluent countries.’s ease of translation is a strong plus point in multi-lingual communities, especially if the translation can be sponsored by the government body concerned.


Description of the sector
Includes all educational establishments: schools, colleges, universities, etc.

Needs and Benefits
The table below shows how the benefits of match the needs of the education sector:

Needs Benefit
Skills taught should be as ‘generic’ as possible and not tied to one vendor’s product File and look and feel compatibility with MS-Office
Being able to give away software is a good ‘selling point’ for courses software can be given away free
Need to demonstrate value for money open-source licence means acquisition costs are zero
Build co-operative skills across the internet international community with multiple opportunities for participation
Worries about licence compliance / ability to audit PCs No licence/compliance hassles
Need to give students marketable skills Similar enough look and feel to MS-Office
Easy to exchange documents with MS-Office users
Good product to teach/learn: learn once, use anywhere
Needs to be available in local languages (could be translated as a community effort) Likely to be available in your language
Easy to translate
Needs to be simple to administrate Network installation available

Routes to Market
For state run schools, a two pronged attack has proved successful:

  • government via politicians and civil servants
  • grass roots through the schools themselves.

Each levers the other: governments are more convinced if the grass roots response looks good, grass roots confidence is enhanced by government leadership.

Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft all have Academy programmes they are bringing into schools. Their vulnerability is that they focus on post 16. There is also ECDL/ICDL, but again it’s focussed on older students.

The Project recommends we should aim to get in earlier with 7 and 8 year olds. These children can use; there is no need to wait until they are 16. The Project cannot compete head to head with companies with the resources of those above. The Project can be smarter in a market they really don’t understand.

As with all other sectors, there is no substitute for knowing and understanding how the market works, being in tune with the culture and speaking the language of the culture.

Special Needs

  • an Access style database
  • there is a lot of content and support material for MS-Office and very little for
  • difficulty in network installations on Windows XP
  • lack of brand awareness, confusion between StarOffice (which is available free under Sun’s Educational Licencing scheme(28).

Public Libraries

Description of the sector
Lending libraries, both privately and publicly funded. Small libraries with no budget and teaching facilities are likely to be more receptive in the early stages rather than big libraries that are used to big donations. All libraries are in scope, including school libraries, voluntary organisations, teaching hospitals, community colleges, etc.

Needs and Benefits
The table below shows how the benefits of match the needs of the public library sector:

Needs Benefit
Value for money No licence fees to pay for installation or upgrade
No licence/compliance hassles
Can be given away free
Need to be compatible with MS-Office Easy to exchange documents with MS-Office users
Operations are similar enough to make migration easy
Should be able to loan software to the greatest number of users Available on many platforms
Multi-lingual features useful Likely to be available in your language

Routes to Market
Bob Kerr has written a comprehensive HOW-TO(29), based on his experience of persuading the public libraries in Edinburgh, Scotland to stock CDs. This is a model case study in exploring the needs of a market, developing an understanding of the customer’s perspective, and tailoring a solution that is acceptable to them. Some of Bob’s key points are summarised and paraphrased in the box below.

Supplying Public Libraries
  • Trust: you have to persuade the library you are a credible source
  • Liability: libraries worry about incurring liability for *technical support, viruses, copyright issues, replacement media, etc.
  • Longevity - the library has to be convinced of that it is worth their time and effort to stock the CD and that it is ‘borrower-proof’
  • Preconceptions: just like other markets, libraries also need convincing “how can software this good be free”

Bob’s document is a model of its type and is recommended reading in full for all Project members, especially MarCons.

Special Needs
Again, the box below is a poor summary of recommendations in Bob Kerr’s HOW-TO:

Producing open-source CDs for Public Lending Libraries
  • Where possible the CD cover should follow the guidelines set out in the ISBN Users Manual published by The International Standard Book Number System Agency, (International Edition).
  • On the cover of the CD there should be a clearly printed disclaimer covering support, liability, etc
  • All CDs must be pressed or high quality CDs and not CDR or CDRW, preferably in DVD covers
  • The library cannot endorse any product. Advertising on the cover to an unconnected third party is not acceptable.
  • A valid and respected vendor of replacement pressed CDs should be made known to the Library.
  • Only major releases will be considered for the library catalogue.


Description of the sector
Organisations run on non-commercial status: charities, voluntary organisations, non-governmental organisations, and so on. The size of this sector often comes as a surprise to people used to dealing with commercial organisations - e.g. there are 700,000 registered NFPs in Australia.

Needs and Benefits
The table below shows how the benefits of match the needs of the NFP sector:

Needs Benefit
Need to minimise costs No licence fees to pay for installation or upgrade
Cannot afford licence issues / audits No licence/compliance hassles
Useful to be able to share with volunteers Can be given away free
Probably legacy MS-Office users Easy to migrate
Need to be compatible with MS-Office users Easy to exchange documents with MS-Office users
Cannot afford re-training Operations are similar enough to make migration easy
Cannot afford vendor-enforced upgrades File format cannot be ‘time-expired’ by a vendor
May need to operate in multiple, possibly local minority languages Likely to be available in your language
Easy to translate

Routes to Market
NFPs can often be reached via funding bodies, digital divide bodies, and circuit riders (volunteers providing IT support for NFPs)(30).

Special Needs
Like SMEs, many NFPs have minimal in-house IT expertise and require easy-to-use products. However, they are used to the idea of community working and are more receptive to community support.


Description of the sector
Variously known as Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Small Medium Businesses (SMBs), this sector also has a wide variety of definitions, but also is a highly significant sector of most countries’ economies (43% of GDP in South Africa(31); 49% of the workforce in Australia, etc).

This sector is attractive to open-source marketeers as it is both price-sensitive and below the threshold for most COTS volume purchase agreements.

Needs and Benefits
The table below shows how the benefits of match the needs of the SME sector:

Needs Benefit
Need to minimise costs No licence fees to pay for installation or upgrade
Cannot afford licence compliance issues / audits No licence/compliance hassles
Useful for employees to be able to use at home Can be given away free
Probably legacy MS-Office users Easy to migrate
Need to exchange documents with MS-Office users Easy to exchange documents with MS-Office users
Don’t want to have to retrain staff Operations are similar enough to make migration easy
Ability to send documents via email as pdfs is useful Saves buying Adobe Acrobat
What you send is what people receive
Issue documents as ‘read only’
Don’t want to be forced by vendors to upgrade File format cannot be ‘time-expired’ by a vendor
Trouble-free operation essential Stable product, less liable to crash
Needs to be in the local language Likely to be available in your language
Easy to translate
May be tempted by full commercial support Same code available commercially

Routes to Market
Local business development agencies; education establishments providing ‘start your own business’ courses; SME networking organisations.

Special Needs
A rule of thumb is that the threshold for employing full-time IT professional is around 30 users. This means that many SMEs do not have the IT specialists to tap the standard open-source support networks of on-line mailing lists, support forums, etc. is technically a much simpler product to support than say an open-source file, print, and mail server, but availability of local rapid support even on a commercial basis can be key to winning business - especially if help is needed with data migration from another product.

Legacy software issues are also key here, for example if an SME has an accounting package with macro links to Excel.


Description of the sector
PC manufacturers / builders supplying PCs with pre-installed software ‘bundles’

Needs and Benefits
The table below shows how the benefits of match the needs of the OEM sector

Needs Benefit
Deliver the best PC ‘bundle’ at the lowest cost No licence fees to pay for installation or upgrade
No licence/compliance hassles
Can be given away free
Potential purchasers may be legacy MS-Office users Easy to migrate
Easy to exchange documents with MS-Office users
Operations are similar enough to make migration easy
Any value-added features add to attractiveness of product, e.g. ability to create pdfs Saves buying Adobe Acrobat
Don’t want support issues Stable product, less liable to crash
Needs to be available in local language Likely to be available in your language
Avoid cumbersome licencing terms Not Microsoft

Routes to Market
The largest OEMs of PCs currently enjoy close relationships with Microsoft - indeed, the relationship is so close that it was legally constrained in the US courts under Judge Thomas Penfold Jackson’s judgement in a Microsoft anti-trust case(32). Unfortunately, this judgement did not cover office software.

Applying disruptive marketing rules, is likely to find greater acceptance among OEMs aspiring to usurp the likes of Dell etc rather than among the current ‘top 20’.

Special Needs
Ease of installation is seen as key to this sector - needs to equal Microsoft’s OEM Pre-Installation Kits (OPK) in ease-of-use for OEMs.

Linux Distributions

Description of the sector
Linux(vi) is increasingly being recognised by mainstream IT pundits as ‘ready for deployment on the desktop’. is currently the only fully-featured office suite available for this platform.

Linux users also tend to be familiar with the way the open-source community operates. Software professionals using Linux are also an important potential source of developers for

Needs and Benefits
The table below shows how the benefits of match the needs of open-source advocates:

Need Benefit
Must meet community’s open-source definitions LGPL licence; OASIS member for XML file formats
Need access to source Source code freely available
Individuals or companies can contribute directly to product development or supplying a missing feature
Can be included in other software
Reliable, fully-featured product Stable product, less liable to crash
May wish to join in Community activities Lots of possibilities for contributors
Must not be Microsoft Monopoly suppliers generate strong feelings

Routes to Market
To date, most major Linux distributions have been happy to accept the source and include it in their distributions. Special Needs Many distributions have a policy of compiling direct from source code. With, this is not a straightforward process.

Different distributions have different packaging formats (.deb, .rpm, etc). Building binaries in all these formats can slow down the release process and also increases the storage requirements on download mirrors etc.

Some distributions refuse to include any non open-source dependencies in their distributions. As is not certified with an open-source Java runtime, this has led to some distributions disabling the parts of which require a JRE.

Similarly, most major distributions have automated build processes, which means they require sources in an easily accessible form from the developers rather than pre-compiled binaries.

(vi) more accurately, GNU/Linux

Review of the External Environment

This section of the Plan looks at trends in the outside world which could impact and the Community using the common Social, Technological, Environment, and Political (STEP) model(33). These factors can constitute either threats or opportunities (or in some cases both) to and/or the Community.

Social and Cultural Environment

Social factors include the demographics and cultural factors which affect customer needs and the size of potential markets. Some social factors include:

  • the world’s biggest potential markets (e.g. China) are showing a keen interest in open-source software(34)
  • the open-source community continues to generate other high quality, cross-platform, multi-lingual software products
  • the cost of providing local language support for increasing numbers of smaller markets cannot be justified by conventional commercial software houses
  • PC users increasingly expect PCs to have office software installed at the time of purchase
  • the average user’s need for office software is being met comfortably by the features of current products
  • as email and web browsing become commonplace in offices, users will expect these applications to be included in the definition of an ‘office suite’
  • people are becoming more comfortable with the concept of online communities as ways of working and co-operating around the world
  • in many territories, women are an ‘emerging market’ for IT/internet. Women appear to be more open to talking about the community surrounding open-source software. This is particularly true if they have children who are interested in computers, and have concerns about employment for older children
  • there is a tendency for employers to specify (e.g.) must have MS-Word skills rather than must have word processing skills which may deter potential users

Technological Environment can be expected to benefit as the concept of open-source software becomes more widely understood and accepted. Development of the internet infrastructure will make access to the software easier and open up new possibilities for involvement in online communities

  • the Microsoft monoculture is raising an awareness of the danger of viruses
  • as Linux becomes mainstream other open-source products like will become more acceptable
  • spread of broadband makes it easier for users to download the product, access web-based support and participate in Community activities
  • the cost of producing CDs is declining steadily enabling cheap distribution of
  • the sheer quantity of code (7.5 million lines) in constitutes a formidable barrier to entry for new competitors
  • web services may evolve to provide radically new ways of satisfying the user needs which are currently met by desktop office suites
  • with the spread of broadband and the internet generally, users may find other ways to access office functionality (e.g. from a server via a browser)

Economic Environment

As office software becomes an increasingly mature market, price becomes increasingly important as customers treat the product as a commodity(35)

  • the price of software is becoming an increasing percentage of the purchase price of new computers
  • there is an embarrassment factor that two of the world’s richest top ten individuals owe their wealth to Microsoft
  • conventional software licence fees are unaffordable in many parts of the developing world
  • the free licence simplifies the spread of across country, trading bloc, or tariff barriers
  • Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are an increasingly important sector in developed economies(36)
  • Sun Microsystems may lose the ability or desire to fund non-revenue generating activities such as the Community

Political and Legal Environment

Increasing worries about the role of the US in the world and distrust of multinational corporations may be expected to help the spread of open-source software. The increasingly aggressive pursuit of IPR by large corporations is designed to cause FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) among potential open-source users and contributors, but equally may prove counter productive as the awareness of open-source grows.

  • 9/11 effect - companies and governments less liable to trust their computer systems and data to US corporations post Afghanistan and post Iraq
  • open-source software allows developing countries to take greater control over their systems and not have to rely on the good intentions of a large, foreign company.
  • open-source offers an opportunity for countries to grow computer skills among their own workforce
  • environmental regulations are increasing pressure to prolong the life of computer equipment in markets like the EU
  • steady trickle of bad publicity from EU and US court cases is tarnishing the reputation of Microsoft the monopolist
  • licence violations, patents, and other IPR issues are being pursued with increasing severity
  • there is believed to be a high volume of unlicenced software in use, even in ‘developed’ markets (e.g. around 30% of business users in Australia(37)
  • the US Patent Office is granting patents to corporations who can afford to submit applications even if they blatantly fail the ‘prior art’ criteria(38)


SWOT Analysis

SWOT Recommendations

Goals and Objectives

Usage Goals

Marketing Objectives

Marketing Project

Strategic Proposals








PR and Publicity

Direct Marketing






Complementary Products


Building the Plan


  2. uses a dual licence strategy for the source code: the GNU General Public licence and the Sun Industry Standards Source licence. See
  3. See for example What is Open Source on
  4. There is a good explanation of this and UNO technology at IBM’s DeveloperWorks site:
  6. For example MySQL AB, developers of the popular open-source database MySQL:
  7. Andrew Morton speaking at a meeting sponsored by the Forum on Technology and Innovation in July 2004 -
  8. Monitored by the Statistics Project at
  9. Unpublished paper from Erwin Tenhumberg soo_ooo_market_share_analysis_draft_21july2004.sxw
  10. Reported in
  11. For example the comparison of Office suites in ZDNet UK June 2004,39024195,39158410,00.htm
  12. e.g. Logotron’s SchoolOffice (education sector) -
  13. e.g. KaiOffice (Chinese) -
  14. e.g. SotOffice (LBA-Linux)- and NeoOffice (MacOS)
  15. The ooo-build parallel fork is a good thing: it brings the notoriously unapproachable development process closer to what the rest of the community expects to deal with Linux Weekly News Aug 19,2004 -
  16. Christensen and Raynor The Innovator’s Solution
  17. e.g. is one of the main pretenders to the Microsoft Office throne, one of the few that can measure up to one of the most formidable office suites in the world
  18. Typical estimates give MS-Windows 95%, Mac OS 3%, GNU/Linux 2%
  19. ...Microsoft increasingly offers licenses to the larger key accounts at very attractive cut prices to beat the competition
  20. Microsoft has been reprimanded over misleading advertising by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The UK watchdog upheld complaints about a magazine advert which claimed that the open-source operating system Linux was more expensive than Windows.
  21. Microsoft: Linux is a threat, it may mean prices cuts and less business for us Jo Best, 03-Sep-04,39024651,39123685,00.htm?nl=d20040906
  22. Microsoft Pushes Translating Its Programs into Developing Nations’ Languages Seattle Times July 2004
  23. Microsoft has slashed prices on Windows XP and Office to join the Thai government’s ‘people’s PC’ project CNet Asia June 2003,39001153,39136847,00.htm
  24. e.g. the now discontinued Javastation product
  25. IBM’s new software is designed to be distributed and accessed through a Web server TechRepublic, May 2004
  26. IBM Developerworks, June 2004 -
  27. For example Anyware Office -
  29. Open Source Lending CDs in Libraries: Howto, Bob Kerr, 2003
  30. Circuit Riders: A technology support solution for the voluntary sector
  31. Open source in the small and medium business sector Gavin Dudley, September 2004
  32. Microsoft broken up BBC Business News Wednesday, 7 June, 2000
  33. See for example Analysis.htm
  34. You can see that in places like China where they have this huge software market - $35bn in the next couple of years, according to IDC. They are endorsing Linux and paying stipends to the corporations there to use Linux, in an effort to try and keep the software business inside China. Carol Stafford, IBM worldwide vice president of Linux sales, July 2004.
  35. See for example Nicholas Carr’s now infamous Harvard Business Review articleIT Doesn’t Matter in May 2003
  36. e.g. Within Australia the small business sector comprises around 97 percent of all private sector businesses and employs 49 percent of the total work force or some 3.3 million people.
  37. Estimates from the Washington-based Business Software Alliance in July 2004,7204,10071717%5e16123%5e%5enbv%5e,00.html
  38. e.g. Oracle’s 2000 patent application for content management systems granted in 2004,745,238.WKU.&OS=PN/6,745,238&RS=PN/6,745,238
  39. In Vietnam, the cost of MS-Office represents 1.4 years’ average local wages Miguel de Icaza, OOoConf 2003
  40. For insights into this see
  41. Microsoft estimates widely reported in the press in July 2004.
  42. Jupiter Media reported in,aid,111616,00.asp
  43. Forrester Research reported in
  44. e.g. PC Treasures Inc’s Business Works Suite
  45. e.g. Scotland, Europe -
  46. SourceForge at is the best known and most widely used repository of open-source projects. Several ‘spin-offs’ are hosted there such as OOoExtras
  47. php - php Hypertext Processor - is a common open-source scripting language for web sites - see
  48. Thanks to Bob Kerr for this list
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