Strategic Marketing Plan

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Strategic Marketing Plan Pages:


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 market 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)


This section provides a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis, listing the

  • internal strengths and weaknesses of the Community and; and
  • opportunities and threats faced by due to the changes in the external environment (see Review of the External Environment)

SWOT Analysis


The Community and benefit from the following internal resources and capabilities:

  • is released under an open-source licence meaning it is free to acquire and distribute.
  • is targetted towards offering budget constraint consumers from an alternative form of software without resorting to holding pirated office suite softwares.
  • The licencing structure means can benefit from Community involvement.
  • Backing from Sun Microsystems means there is a dedicated professional development team and other support for the Community and product.
  • The Community has an active and enthusiastic membership, especially in the native language projects.
  •’s origins as a single product has created a tightly-integrated product suite.
  • has no competitor with comparable functionality in several platforms / languages.
  • The functionality provided by is comparable to the market-leading product.
  • has proved easy to translate into different languages.
  • uses open file formats natively within the product and is an active player in the OASIS standards work.
  • offers good file compatibility with other common office products.


The Community needs to be wary of the following internal issues.

  • The source code is released under an open-source licence meaning it can be incorporated into other products within the restrictions of the licence.
  • The dependence on Sun causes suspicion among some potential Community supporters in the open-source world.
  • The Community is immature in governance and organisation.
  • The Community has no self-generated finances.
  • Lack of a professional management (especially project management) structure means that the enthusiasm of volunteers within the Community is not always harnessed effectively.
  • The size of the codebase makes it difficult for new hackers to master.
  • The brand name is confusing (it sounds like a website).
  • does not include/lacks integration with other software (e.g. email, web browser).
  • does not have macro or Basic compatibility with MS-Office which can hinder the migration of ‘power users’.
  • Some new functions in are being written in Java, requiring a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on the user’s PC.
  • The constraints of working cross-platform can make for a less than perfect ‘fit’ to individual platforms.
  • The generic cross-platform installer is not as easy to use as native platform installers.
  • lacks end user ‘extras’ such as hard copy manuals, templates, clipart, etc.
  • does not come in an OEM pre-installation kit for PC suppliers.
  • does not have a visible local support structure which is often claimed to be essential for the SME market.
  • For many MS-Windows users, open-source is synonymous with Linux, meaning they do not realise is also available for their platform.
  • As a full-featured office suite, has a heavy ‘footprint’ (especially with a JRE), making it less suitable for the currently ‘under-served’ users who would be a natural target for disruptive technology marketing.


The following external factors provide opportunities for

  • The adoption of Linux is encouraging people to think more about open-source.
  • The open-source movement is showing healthy growth world wide.
  • There is a range of cross-platform, multi-lingual, open-source software available for potential bundling opportunities with (email clients, web browsers, databases, groupware, etc).
  • The arrival of the Microsoft’s XP range of products is forcing users onto another round of upgrades.
  • Microsoft’s increasing efforts in licence enforcement encourage users to seek alternatives - especially users without valid licences.
  • The proliferation of viruses etc targeted at Microsoft software is encouraging users to look at alternatives.
  • PCs are now becoming widespread in countries where MS-Office licences are simply unaffordable[39].
  • The lack of hard-copy manuals makes an attractive target for third-party technical authors.


The following external factors constitute potential threats to

  • The Community is highly dependent on Sun Microsystems who have not been noted for software in the past.
  • The presence of two products in the marketplace using the same codebase causes confusion ( and StarOffice).
  • The open-source licence regime means anyone can rebrand and redistribute the code under a new name.
  • The office productivity suite marketplace is totally dominated by Microsoft with its MS-Office range of products.
  • Microsoft can set de-facto industry standards in areas such as look and feel, file formats.
  • Microsoft can afford to target specific markets with low cost variants of MS-Office.
  • Microsoft can use its virtual monopoly of the desktop operating system market to facilitate other products such as MS-Office.
  • Microsoft’s roadmap for MS-Office shows closer integration with other Microsoft products, making migration more difficult.
  • Developments in patent legislation are creating a climate of ‘FUD’ around open-source.
  • Users are expecting ‘office suites’ to include internet software - email, web browser, possibly calendaring.

SWOT Recommendations

Matching internal strengths and weaknesses to external threats and opportunities gives four classes of strategic recommendations for the Community:

Strengths Weaknesses
Opportunities O-S: No-brainers where’s internal strengths are a clear fit with external opportunities O-W: Areas where needs to make special efforts to meet external opportunities
Threats T-S: Areas where is well equipped to defend its market against external threats T-W: Areas where’s weaknesses make it more vulnerable to external threats.

O-S recommendations

  • should capitalise on its position as the only fully-functioned, integrated open-source office productivity suite in the Linux market.
  • The Community should build a centre of expertise in native-language deployment, creating a ‘best practice’ process which can be deployed for new languages.
  • The Project should plan promotional activities specifically targeted at users faced with an enforced upgrade from Microsoft. The message should stress the similarity of look and feel, ability to read MS-Office file formats, and additional benefits over MS-Office (e.g. tighter integration).
  • The Project should plan promotional activities specifically targeted at users worried about being caught with ‘pirate’ copies of MS-Office. The message should stress the similarity of look and feel, ability to read MS-Office file formats, additional benefits over MS-Office (e.g. tighter integration), and the guaranteed open-source licence.
  • The Project is ideally placed to target ‘current non-consumers’ - a classic market for adopting a disruptive technology.

O-W recommendations

  • The Community should improve the packaging of to make it easier for MS-Windows users to migrate to than to upgrade to MS-Office XP.
  • The Community should continue to address reported bugs in MS-Office compatibility.
  • The Community should address the issue of support for MS-Office macro / Basic.
  • the Project needs to communicate that is for MS-Windows users too.
  • needs to develop an OEM pre-installation kit for PC suppliers.
  • The Community should work with the open-source community to develop clip-art, templates, etc.
  • The Community should produce ‘native’ Linux versions (rpms, debs, etc).
  • The Community should produce ‘native’ Mac OS X versions reducing reliance on the X11 interface.
  • The Community should produce a ‘Java free’ version to reduce demands on the desktop and give greater acceptability to Linux distributions (until Java is open-sourced[40]).
  • The Community should prioritise size reduction / performance enhancements (or possibly an ‘OOoLite’) for low specification PCs.
  • The Community could produce OOoLite with optional enhancements/plugins to be added by the user.

T-S recommendations

  • The Community should put significant effort into understanding Sun’s goals for StarOffice and, and selling the benefits to Sun of their continuing support of the Community.
  • The Community should supply community-developed translations etc for StarOffice.
  • The Community should produce significant collateral to demonstrate and aid ease of migration for MS-Office users.
  • The Community should respond to Microsoft ‘bargain basement’ variants of MS-Office by stressing the full-function/open-source attributes of

T-W recommendations

  • The Community should seek to strengthen its governance and management so it is capable of becoming self-sufficient.
  • The Community should work to build understanding of the codebase in the open-source development community.
  • The Project needs to maintain clear documentation on the StarOffice vs questions.
  • The Community needs to address users' needs for email, web browsing, etc. functionality

Goals and Objectives

Usage Goals

Target 2010
The Community’s goal is that becomes the product of choice for users of office software, on any major platform in any language. However, it is recognised that office suites are a mature product, and so users with a product currently installed on their PCs will probably be quite comfortable with it.

The decision to choose is most likely to be exercised at specific ‘trigger points’ in users’ decision-making:

  • users who have not yet selected/installed an office suite (including those acquiring a new PC) and realise they have a need for one
  • users of single function applications looking for additional functionality (e.g. word processor users who find they also need a spreadsheet)
  • users who have unlicenced (‘pirate’) editions of commercial software
  • users who are facing an enforced ‘end-of-life’ upgrade for their current product

The Community’s goal is for OpenOffice to be the product of choice at these trigger points, reaching a 50% selection rate by 2010:


Today, there are estimated to be around 600 million PCs in use; by 2010, the number could be over 1,000 million(41); Based on these figures and a 50% selection rate by 2010,’s target is to be installed on over 400 million desktops by the end of 2010, a market share of over 40%:

Fig 0.png

Measuring Progress
Unlike commercial organisations, cannot measure sales directly. The variety of distribution channels (see Distribution) means that an accurate count of installations is also impractical - for example, an increasingly successful policy of encouraging mirroring will reduce the number of downloads measured from the site. With an open-source policy, it is also impossible to enforce compulsory user registration (even if that was deemed desirable by the Community).

Currently, the Community Statistics Project is maintaining what statistics it can for downloads, registrations, etc. It is hoped that with time trends can be spotted and conclusions drawn. Possibly the Project may be in a position to commission research by the end of the Plan period.

However, if the Community’s usage goals are being met, should be featured increasingly in independent surveys of the office suite market, press coverage, etc. There are some examples of this already in North American studies: the SME Market (6% market share July 2003)(42), and the large business market (8% March 2004)(43).

Marketing Objectives

In order to reach the usage goals, the Project believes the following marketing objectives must be achieved:

  • must have achieved global brand awareness
  • must be available for any desktop platform with more than a 10% global market share
  • must be available in every language used by more than 10% of computer users
  • must be available to 90% of computer users for less than one hour’s local average wages
  • must be a component of every general purpose Linux distribution

In terms of the product acceptance curve, users currently fall between the innovators and early adopters.

Fig 1.png

By 2010, must have broken through into the majority users in order to meet its overall sales targets.

Correctly identifying the maturity of a target market is important if promotion activities are to be successful.

Marketing Project

The detailed strategic proposals to achieve these objectives are given below. Responsibility for implementing the proposals will be with the various members of the Project as below:

Project Leads
Own the process for creating and maintaining the Strategic Marketing Plan. Responsible for issuing central press releases; maintaining the Project pages on the website and the central library of collateral (English language); recruitment of and liaison with MarCons; recruitment of and liaison with Observers to work on central resources; liaison with other Community projects and the Community Council.

Marketing Contacts (MarCons)
Responsible for participating in creating central resources and then adapting them to their own geographies/markets - translations, local market intelligence and promotion; distribution channels to their geography/market; named contacts for local/specialist press enquiries about, the Project, or the Community in any press releases; feedback local market information to the Project Leads; liaison with any Native Language projects key to their areas.

What do MarCons do?

A MarCon:

  • is available and responds readily to individuals and organisations that contact them with regard to
  • liaises with the Marketing Project Leads in representing, and coordinating relationships with
  • conducts research and is aware of marketing opportunities in their area, e.g. potential users, conferences for to attend etc.
  • distributes press releases if applicable to their region.
  • conducts presentations and seminars if requested.
  • shares ideas, thoughts, plans, what has worked and not worked with
  • uses the Marketing Project as a resource and requests assistance and ideas to assist them to market in their region.
  • joins the Marketing Project and offers their specialist skills to contribute to the goals and activities of the Project.
  • subscribes to or monitors and
The relationship between the MarCons and the Project Leads is illustrated in Figure 2 below, which shows how both parties co-operate in producing a Strategic Marketing Plan (this document) which forms the starting point for a Market Plan for the target market.

Fig 2.png

Applying this process to the creation of central resources such as promotional materials prevents duplication of work and ensures a consistency of message.

Marketing Project Observers

The title ‘Observer’ comes from the name of a role in the SourceCast software used by the Community’s web site. ‘Observers’ do much more than ‘observe’ - they are full participants in all Marketing discussion groups and on-line activities and are the front line troops in Project activities.

Specific responsibilities: providing specialist skills (market research, competitor intelligence, graphics, copywriting, translating...); working either on central (Project Lead) or local (MarCon) marketing activities; fundamental resource for the promotion of

The Marketing Project and the N-L Projects

The Native-Language (N-L) Projects have proved to be one of the most successful developments within the Community. In the early days of N-L, there was a naive view that all the real work of the Community would take place in projects like Marketing, and the N-L Projects would simply go off and translate this (and into other languages.

However, the more developed N-L Projects are evolving into microcosms of the full Community, providing user support, documentation, product development, localised marketing, etc. Indeed, taken as a whole, there is arguably more marketing work taking place within all the N-L Projects than in the central Marketing Project.

This is a healthy development; the challenge for the Project Leads is to ensure the marketing expertise, collateral, etc being produced within a specific NL-Project is fed back into the central Marketing Project. It can then be spread back out into other NL-Projects on a ‘hub and spoke’ arrangement (see Figure 3 below):

Fig 3.png

The Project retains a leadership role: the Project needs to be able to drive the global marketing effort. N-L marketing should follow unless it is felt that local conditions do not comply with the global vision.

Producing this Strategic Marketing Plan is a key part of developing, documenting, and communicating this global vision.

Strategic Proposals



This Plan is concerned primarily with the Marketing activities of the Community. However, the Plan needs to be adopted by the whole Community if it is to be implemented. For example, the proposals concerning the website require cross-project (and possibly cross Sun/Community) decision making capability.

For this reason, the Plan will be presented by the Project to the Community Council for ratification before the proposals below are adopted.


Brand name

Revisit the brand name and relationship to rebranded COTS variants StarOffice, Novell Office, AOL Office, etc 1.1
Encourage all producers of software using the codebase to display ‘ inside’ style branding. 1.2
If any of these producers have strong brands of their own, leverage these to reinforce (especially in the early years of the Plan) 1.3

Brand values

Develop brand values: 1.4
  • Openness (value for money, multi-lingual, multi-platform, open file format, open source)
  • Quality (stable, reliable, well-established, virus resistant)
  • Friendly (familiar user interface, legacy file compatibility, community based)


Work closely with the QA project to prioritise / ensure valid bugs are squashed and report as a ‘good news’ item 1.5
Continue to identify and address any shortcomings in MS-Office compatibility as long as these file formats predominate in the marketplace. 1.6

Product Development

Set strategic direction for what the leading office suite should contain by 2010, and investigate variants (e.g. OOo Professional) 1.7
Look at adding complementary components to through interworking with complementary open-source products which share our brand values for: 1.8
  • database
  • email
  • calendaring
The Community should work with the open-source community to develop clip-art, templates, etc and integrate them into the product. 1.9
the Community look at providing ‘OOoLite’ functionality for low specification PCs. Possible approaches include ‘stripping down’ the codebase, or by forming a marketing alliance with other open-source products supporting file formats and ‘look and feel’ 1.10
Take direction of the requests for enhancements and turn into a coherent short term product development plan with the developers. 1.11
Provide a method of supporting MS-Office macros and BASIC to facilitate migration of 'power users' to 1.12


Publicise the work of the various support communities 1.13
Rationalise the mass of user documents, HOW-TOs, etc scattered around the OOo site 1.14


The Community should build a centre of expertise in native-language deployment, creating a ‘best practice’ process which can be deployed for new languages 1.15
The Community should improve the packaging of to make it easier for MS-Windows users to migrate to than to upgrade to MS-Office XP 1.16
Create an automated installed kit for OEMs (OPK - OEM Pre-installation Kit) 1.17
Installation process should be more tailored to particular platforms, e.g. self-installers for MS-Windows; ‘native’ Linux versions (rpms, debs, etc) 1.18
The Community should produce a ‘Java free’ version to reduce demands on the desktop and give greater acceptability to Linux distributions (until Java is open-sourced) 1.19


The Project must produce convincing materials to explain the open-source value proposition: “if this product is so good, how/why are you giving it away free?” 2.1
Standards should be set for CD pricing by approved distributors (see [[#CDROM_distros" CD-ROM distributors]]) 2.2
Develop the concept that the price of is contributing back to the Community (part of the Marketing Strategy for the Community). 2.3


Distribution (or Place) covers all aspects of getting the product to the end user and installed and operational on their PC.

Explore the logistics of giving something away - which can be just as complex as the logistics of a ‘paid for’ product. The Project has to consider the full lifecycle of: 3.1
  • getting the installation media to the end user
  • installation on the PC
  • putting the user in touch with whatever community resources are required to ensure delivers the expected benefits to the user.

Virtual distribution website The website is the key to the distribution process, not only hosting the master downloads, but also signposting the other distribution channels.

The downloads section must be as simple to find and use as possible: the model is an Amazon-style ‘one click download’ for all users in their language / platform of choice. 3.2


The Project must encourage as many high-quality mirrors as possible, including emerging peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent 3.3

Physical Media

CD-ROM distributors

Through MarCons, the Project should sign up CD distributors in all major geographies, especially those where broadband is not available. 3.4
The Project should be prepared to endorse distributors who sign up to certain minimum standards (pricing, quality) and offer free links from the website in exchange. 3.5 branded software has also been included in commercial office ‘bundles’(44). While welcome, these are less desirable from a Project perspective as they are more expensive, and dilute the branding.

CD-ROM giveaways (magazines, etc)

MarCons should identify the main ‘cover disk’ magazines in major geographies, keeping records of the magazines’ coverage of, and work with them in advance of every product launch to ensure full coverage of the new release. 3.6
The Project should build a library of ‘Starting with’ articles that can be offered to magazines to form the basis of articles to accompany cover disks. 3.7

Public Lending Libraries

MarCons should work to ensure is available in every public lending library where these exist in their territory. 3.8


Linux distributions

MarCon(s) should be appointed for the Linux market and work to ensure is included with all mainstream Linux distros (specialist ‘minimal Linux’ distros are aiming for a different market). 3.9

Pre-installed software on new PCs

The pre-installed market is key to adoption by home users. should target to sign up at least one ‘big name’ brand by 2005, and a further brand by 2010. 3.10

(see also the OPK action under Packaging)



As the community does not have funding, funded promotion currently is limited to ‘piggy-backing’ on Sun’s promotional activities for StarOffice plus whatever free promotional activity the community can come up with. The main challenge here for the Project is to make the best use of the resources it has, and to come up with an integrated approach, with all activities supporting the brand values following the same rules and spreading the same message.

The Project must agree the brand values with the Community Council and communicate them tirelessly to the Community 4.1
The Project should target ‘current non-consumers’ - a classic market for market disrupters 4.2 should capitalise on its position as the only fully-functioned, integrated open-source office productivity suite in the Linux market 4.3
The Project needs to communicate that is for MS-Windows users too 4.4
The Project should respond to Microsoft ‘bargain basement’ variants of MS-Office by stressing the full-function/open-source attributes of 4.5
The Project should plan promotional activities specifically targeted at users faced with an enforced upgrade from Microsoft. The message should stress the similarity of look and feel, ability to read MS-Office file formats, and additional benefits over MS-Office (e.g. tighter integration) 4.6
The Project should plan promotional activities specifically targeted at users worried about being caught with 'pirate’ copies of MS-Office. The message should stress the similarity of look and feel, ability to read MS-Office file formats, additional benefits over MS-Office (e.g. tighter integration), and the guaranteed open-source licence 4.7


The site is currently hosted by Collabnet using the SourceCast content management system. The funding for the site is provided by Sun, including hosting, bandwidth for downloads, etc. SourceCast is designed specifically to support remote collaboration on open-source projects, on similar lines to SourceForge(46).

Internal Project Users Various projects - including the Marketing Project - use the project tools provided by SourceCast for discussion groups, file repositories, etc. In this case, the site is serving internal project users, and the content generally fits well within templates provided by SourceCast.

Shop Window However, is not just a site for internal users. It is also’s main shop window to the world, for telling potential users about the product and the Community, how to acquire, install, and use the product, where to go for support, and how to become an active member of the Community. Without an external advertising budget, this is the advertising resource for the Project (see Advertising).

SourceCast is not as well suited for this general hosting activity, as the CMS templates restrict the look and feel of the site, and CollabNet also forbid the use of scripting languages such as php(47) to generate dynamic content.

Recommendations The ‘Shop Window’ element of the website is a key resource for the Project’s promotional activity. This Plan recommends that:

[] should host the shop window pages free from the restrictions of SourceCast. The content of the pages should be owned by the Marketing Project, with the mechanics provided by the Website Project. 4.8
NL-projects would be encouraged to have their own NL shop-windows in this same area 4.9
The internal project pages are generally well served by SourceCast, but should be moved to a new ‘root’ URI such as []. Individual projects would have URIs as now (e.g. []) 4.10

Marketing Project

The Marketing Project pages should host as now the activities of the Project, plus the English language masters of all the Project collateral (see Product Marketing Material). 4.11
NL-projects would be encouraged to maintain translations of the Project collateral in their own project pages. 4.12

PR and Publicity

This is the main focus of the Promotion activity of the Project, as unlike paid-for advertising it does not require funding. The most important principle is to ensure that everything the press sees or hears is managed and is consistent.

It is therefore recommended that only Project Leads or MarCons actually communicate with the press. This includes all areas of PR, such as corporate announcements, defensive PR, and marketing PR. 4.13
PR Tools
  • news releases
  • feature stories and interviews
  • exclusives
  • opinion pieces
  • photos
  • speeches or appearances at seminars, conventions, etc.
  • local, regional or national talk shows and other programmes
  • online chats and forums
  • community involvement
  • lobbying activities
  • social responsibility activities

All press releases should contain the three key elements:

  • a message related to’s features and benefits
  • a hook to make it newsworthy and interesting
  • a link to drive people to the web site
Proposed tactics for PR activities
  • Prior to a product release, encourage the press to download late beta snapshots
  • Find a good spokesperson to help promote
  • Always ensure that the website is featured in the release
  • Include the geek press, trade press and consumer press
  • Make sure there is some genuine ‘news’
  • Schedule press releases so that various media sources publish information that builds on itself and progressively includes new tidbits of information
  • Develop an interesting and fun idea centered around a release or upgrade - e.g. the naming of new releases
  • Offer co-sponsorships for media to OOoConf

Direct Marketing

For budget reasons, the only channel available to the Project for direct marketing is email, which in these days of global spam is a highly sensitive area. However, though the voluntary registration process there is a channel for building an ‘opt-in’ email address database.

It is proposed that this should be used primarily for: 4.14
  • ‘pass it on’ - spreading usage from innovators to early adopters etc (see Figure 1 Product Acceptance)
  • encouraging uptake of new releases
  • encouraging users to become Community members
  • encouraging users to attend conferences


Without a budget, the main advertising platform for the Project is the website. All other promotional activity should be aimed at maximising the exposure of the website. However, it is important that the Project maintains other materials such as web banners, product flyers and posters, product packaging and inserts which can be used if an opportunity arises (see Product Marketing Material for details of specific actions).

The Project’s advertising promise for is that the software will meet all a user’s needs for office software. and the Community will always be there for them. The tone of the advertising is always positive, emphasising that one day all software will be written like this. As moves into the mainstream (see Figure 1 Product Acceptance)) the tone will need to change from appealing to innovators to reassuring the mainstream.


Promotions in marketing jargon are ‘incentives to act’, for encouraging potential consumers to try the product, or to encourage loyal customers to increase their consumption. Clearly, some of the mainstays of commercial promotions such as bulk buys (‘buy one get one free’) or coupons (‘5 euro off with this coupon’) simply don’t work in the context of

However, there are other promotion opportunities. For example, giving away CDs at freshers’ fairs at colleges and universities - or better still, arranging for the college to give away the software as part of the student induction.



Conferences require a lot of planning, resources (money and people), and can flop without proper targeting, but they are a recognised part of the open-source process and a means for the cognoscenti to judge the health of a project. Fortunately, Sun recognise the importance of the annual Conference (OOoConf) and facilitate it with financial and other resources.

Project leads should take responsibility for the success of OOoConf, either by personal involvement or by appointing a conference organiser (for responsibilities see box below) 4.15
Project responsibilities for a successful OOoConf
  • key responsibility - making sure there is a compelling reason for people to attend
  • making sure there is something newsworthy (PR)
  • making sure OOoConf addresses specific marketing objectives

Third Party Conferences Budget is a problem here again - however, MarCons should be aware of activities going on in their area where they might be able to put forward. For example, volunteering to speak at software conferences, professional associations, etc.

MarCons should actively recruit, support, and keep a register of volunteer speakers for meetings, etc. 4.16

Visual aids and presentation material should form part of the Project Library.


Product Marketing Material Supporting product literature and other Community collateral materials is key to many of the Project’s efforts. These items must present the image and message very clearly and professionally. Not only is the text and wording of the literature important, but also the visual image and quality that it projects.

Items that should be held in a central Marketing Project Library
  • Graphics: logos, web banners, CD-ROM labels and jewel case inserts, ‘built with’ images, posters
  • White Papers: Product Flyers aimed at various audiences; Release Notes
  • Screenshots: various platforms, languages
  • Impress presentations about
  • Case Studies: for each target market
  • Reviews: links to (favourable!) reviews in ‘quality’ on-line sources, especially those outwith the open-source ‘usual suspects’
  • Press Pack: a convenient bundle for time-starved journalists
  • Premium Items: artwork for mugs, T-Shirts, pens, carrier bags, etc.

In literature, it is critical to highlight and emphasize the benefits of and not just the specifications and features. Each piece should consider these issues:

  • What will the literature be used for (e.g. background on open-source / overall Community information / features and benefits / reasons to join the Community / etc.)?
  • Who is the audience for each piece (e.g. current or potential Community members / current or potential users / end users or decision makers for groups of users / etc.)?
  • What is the state of maturity of that particular market (see Figure 1 Product Acceptance?)
  • Who will develop the piece? what brief will they be given by the Project Leads and MarCons?
  • What is the copyright position of the artifact?
  • When will the piece become obsolete? what does it replace?

The Project Leads will be responsible for:

Commissioning artifacts from the artwork project, individual contributors, etc. 4.17
QA’ing submissions and maintaining these in a central library 4.18

MarCons can either use these ‘as is’ or customise for individual markets.

Premium Items Premium items are the freebies given away at trade shows or other events. Again, as there is no budget available for these:

Project Leads should commission the artwork for producing mugs, T-Shirts, baseball caps, pens, carrier bags, etc from the artwork project, and maintain it on the project site in the hopes that local finance will be available for specific events. 4.19


Marketing Project Members

The roles of the various members of the Project are outlined elsewhere (see Marketing Project). However, it cannot be stressed enough that the success of the promotional activity of the Project will depend on the enthusiasm and commitment of Project members, and their understanding of the Strategic Marketing Plan and the proposition.

The number one priority of the Marketing Leads should be the health of the Project. No opportunity should be missed for encouraging participation in Project activities.

Project Leads should set up a mechanism for tracking this state of health, e.g. by recording the number of project members, the number of active participants in discussions, etc. 4.20

Technical Authors

Project members should encourage authors to produce works about 4.21

(“I really liked your Dummies Guide to xxx - have you ever thought about doing one for”)

  • seeing books about helps spread the brand name
  • books generate reviews - further media exposure for the brand name
  • users who won’t use software without hard copy user manuals can be steered to third party books

The fact that doesn’t have paper manuals makes it more attractive to third party authors.

Project Leads should be able to supply statistics about the number of users (i.e. potential readers). 4.22

End Users

Finally, it must never be forgotten that satisfied users can be the best ambassadors for People like giving presents, and the Project can encourage this behaviour with appropriate messages:

“Giving is good” messages
  • We want you to share this with your friends,relative, schools, libraries, charities, government representatives
  • Who have you shared this with today?
  • I’m not buying, I’m sharing
  • What languages do you share in?
  • Give a little, get a lot
  • It’s all for you, and your friends too

Complementary Products is designed to be easy to call from other applications and uses open file formats. This should make it an obvious partner for other software (especially but not exclusively open-source). For example, the GRAMPS Genealogy software can export reports in Writer format.


Building the Plan

How this Plan was built

This Plan represents the results of roughly six months’ elapsed work by the Project and other members of the Community. The first phase consisted of developing a draft strategy through debate and brainstorming sessions, mostly among the MarCons. This took the Plan to version 0.5 in time for OOoConf 2004. Feedback and discussion among the wider Community then continued through debate in the Project mailing lists. Once broad agreement was reached that the strategy was correct, then the detailed work began of developing key action points from the strategy.

File:Fig 4.png
Version 1.0 of the Plan was then formally adopted by the Community Council by the end of 2004.

Strategy Development

Figure 5 Strategy Development Process below illustrates the strands of work which have gone into this Plan, and how the various sections link together. It is intended as a roadmap for anyone wishing to take part in the ongoing strategic development work.

File:Fig 5.png


This Plan was developed using the MarCon discussion list and compiled by John McCreesh. Thanks to all the MarCons; special thanks to: Daniel Carrera, Christian Einfeldt, Colin Charles, Justin Clift, Sophie Gautier, Ian Lynch, Bob Kerr, Anthony Long, Jacqueline McNally, Sankarshan Mukhopadhay, Charles Schulz, Ryan Singer, G. Roderick Singleton, Colm Smyth, Erwin Tenhumberg, Andre Schnabel, Louis Suarez-Potts, Stefan Taxhet, Italo Vignoli, Robert Vojta, and apologies to those whose names have been accidentally omitted from this list.


This document is copyright ©2004 by the Marketing Project. All rights reserved. Its contents may be used under the terms of the [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike] licence.


  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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