Anti-Americanism and EU protectionism is a threat to both the European software industry, and the open source culture. In the past, no one in information technology (IT) cared and few even asked if you were liberal or conservative, Tory or Labor, Democrat or Republican, what country’s passport you carried, or what religion you professed (including none). Then an IT developer’s web site tried to tie open source software (OSS) to political philosophy. And an error-filled InfoWorld blog post claimed the French had some kind of special relationship with the open source movement.
Now, according to a British blogger on ComputerworldUK, a group of mostly French politicians have ratcheted up the issue by trying to make the software market both political and geographic. Unfortuhately the British blogger has turned the French politicians simple-minded concept into an anti-Microsoft (MSFT) and anti-American diatribe. What the America hater offers in parochialism he lacks in facts. He says:
“…Unlike proprietary programs, which originate almost exclusively from the US, open source software is produced around the world, with a particularly strong contribution from Europe.”
He's wrong on both counts.
On the "proprietary software side," the American hater purposely ignores the worldwide enterprise software market leading positions of EU-based SAP (SAP), Misys (FTSE: MSY), Dassault (DASTY), Sage (LSE: SGE.L) and Business Objects, to name just a few European software providers. And he ignores the thousands of software developers Microsoft and IBM (IBM) employ in Europe. In addition many proprietary software providers in up-and-coming categories such as BPM (Cordys), BRE (Ilog-being acquired by IBM), EAM (Mega and Scheer), MDM (Heiler) and so forth are also “EU originated” to use the anti-American blogger’s meaningless term.
On the "open source software" side, he ignores the fact that most open source software also comes from or is primarily supported by organizations based in the U.S. This even includes the projects—GNU/Linux, Firefox and OpenOffice.org—that the US-hater uses as examples in his blog post. Then you work your way through the alphabet from the most prevalent open source project of the modern era, Apache HTTP, to the Asterisk PBX, the Berkeley DB project (its leading commercial variant currently is an Oracle (ORCL) product), and so forth. Such an analysis could go on through the alphabet from BIRT to xTuple, Yahoo Zimbra (YAHOO) and Zope.
However, when you look at open source, you find that its adherents thankfully do not look at political boundaries the way the American hater does. For all the examples of US origin given above, there is also an Alfresco, founded by an American and Brit based in the UK; a JBoss, founded by a Frenchman based in the state of Georgia in the US before it was acquired by Red Hat (RHAT) based in the U.S. state of North Carolina; a Mulesource, started in the UK but with (at its founding) an American CEO; and an OpenBravo, founded by Spaniards and still based in Pamplona.
If the biased blogger starts an “us vs. them” battle, the $50 billion EU software industry may lose big time. And if the U.S.-hater’s claim of some kind of special European relationship to open source were true (it's clearly not) it would be the antithesis of the open source culture.
Fortunately, software has no nationality.