I have posted frequently about the absurdity of the "worldwide Open Standards" movement in general and about the negative effect of Open Standards activity on shareholder value for the likes of IBM, Microsoft (MSFT), Red Hat (RHAT) and Sun (JAVA) in particular.
I always draw the distinction between Open Standards and open standards. Open Standards is always written in propagandistic upper case by some small cell of individuals organized in a fluid amalgam of front groups (often also funded by the same public companies). Their activity is a throwback to all kinds of extremist activity in the last century, but presumably without the violence. Lower-case open standards, on the other hand, are just the market at work and are good for technology investors and users alike.
I also draw the distinction that open source and open standards are not synonymous although there seems to be a strong cultural connection to standards among open source community members.
No one else seems to care much about this issue from an investment perspective, which is why we have blogs of course. But I was happy to see that a bona fida expert in both software development and building an enterprise that meets a payroll each week has at least thought the issue through.
I am not suggesting he agrees with all my commentary but on the Open Source Initiative (OSI) web site's License Approval list (remember, there is no explicit link between open standards and open source), Brian Behlendorf opined that standardization best:
"... *follows* widespread innovation and implementation rather than trying to precede it.
"... the most successfully implemented interoperable standards in existance, are the ones we take for granted: TCP/IP, DNS, SMTP, and HTTP. None of them required conformance as a license to implement or redistribute; non-conformant implementations are eliminated from the market because they provide inferior service."
He doesn't need me to make his bona fides but just in case the name is not familiar, Behlendorf co-founded CollabNet, a likely--in my opinion--future open-source-based IPO. The company provides tools and services for IT developers and adminstrators. Before launching CollabNet, Behlendorf ran a Web design and engineering consultancy while he co-founded and contributed heavily to the Apache Web Server Project, co-founded and supported the VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) effort, and assisted several 'open standards' working groups, particularly the HTTP standardization effort. Behlendorf is currently a Director of the Mozilla Foundation and is a retired Director and President of the Apache Software Foundation. He's listed as Board Emiriti at OSI.
In addition to his opinion on standards, investors might want to look to the linked opinion for what he thinks about the past of Java and the future for Microsoft vis a vis the Open Document Format.