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A Nod to Open Source: IBM Switches to Firefox

Bill Malchisky  July 1 2010 02:26:42 PM
Image:A Nod to Open Source: IBM Switches to Firefox

Today IBM made a bold announcement: they are changing their default internal web browser to Firefox. This is what I would consider to be an other blow against the Microsoft corporate strong-hold. Why? In my opinion companies are becoming increasingly tired of being forced into a product decision with only one path. The world today is about ubiquitous access through a multitude of mediums; the best way for companies to provide that is to include some level of open source products in their offering. Currently, Microsoft provides less options outside of their all-or-nothing adoption strategy. With the announcement of Microsoft cancelling their KIN offering, just six weeks after launch and millions of dollars consumed over a few years for product development, followed immediately by the news of IBM's new browser direction, combined creates a formidable one-two punch towards Microsoft product portfolio adoption--from my perspective.

If IBM can manage their firm with a nonproprietary browser, that is a sign of strength for firms large and small that previously may have convinced themselves that they would lose capabilities if they went with an open source solution. Of course there are plenty of firms---particularly the insurance and real estate verticals---which code applications that only work on Internet Explorer, but I sense that will begin to change as the market share numbers continue to shift away from Internet Explorer adoption. Competition creates options, which almost always benefits the customer.

At the time of this post, IBM has approximately 145,000 internal users running Firefox. The remaining ~255k users will be encouraged rather than forced to switch browsers. Additionally, IBM will ask companies working with IBM to adopt Firefox. My opinion, which I admit is purely conjecture, is that most of those users will in-time make the move particularly as more of the content they access in the cloud works well with Firefox. Some people though just like Internet Explorer and will keep it. I know that last statement is low risk, but sometimes human behavior is reliably predictable.

This lead story spread quickly via the Internet and well over 20 posting agencies provided their view of the story, including these four sites: ZDNet, CNET, PC Magazine, and IndyPosted. There will be many more and the weekly trade journals should all provide brief articles in the near-term.

IBM has supported open source initiatives openly since 1999 and strengthened its commitment with an announcement providing US$1B in year 2000 dollars to support long-range Linux project planning. Since then, every year IBM has made generous contributions to open source initiatives, in terms of patents, paid resources to co-develop many open source projects, Linux OS improvements, legal intellectual property and license enforcement assistance, promoting open source projects, and many other areas.

With IBM now moving to an open source browser, they can not only further remove their company from wholly owned proprietary solutions, but support the mantra for open standards open cloud initiatives. This announcement in my opinion is a huge step for open source and should have a long-term impact on the Internet Explorer market share, with other companies taking note. How much and when? That is a conundrum. Time will tell of course, and the impact may be small over the initial year or two, as larger enterprises can only make such a changes with lots of testing on their internal and partner(s') browser based applications. But switching is possible and that is the point.

For the fortunate individuals traveling to IamLUG in early August, I will discuss further this topic in my session entitled, Lotus on Linux Report. Hope to see you there! If you attend, please be certain to say, "Hello."

1Tony  7/2/10 1:17:51 AM  A Nod to Open Source: IBM Switches to Firefox

This can only work if IBM product (quick and connections) stop reliance on activex.

2Bill Malchisky  7/2/10 10:18:35 AM  A Nod to Open Source: IBM Switches to Firefox

Correct, Tony. I do think that will have to occur and is more probably now. As more IBMers convert, IBM should see less of a need for such things.

3Laptop Power Supply  9/28/10 11:49:03 PM  A Nod to Open Source: IBM Switches to Firefox

your post is really good I will work on it thanks for your useful post

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