Date: prev next · Thread: first prev next last
2011 Archives by date, by thread · List index

I am copying the marketing and the discuss mailing lists, because I do not think that private messages are a good sign of community work, and because you have raised several questions that deserve an answer, especially for those not familiar with TDF.

I apologize in advance for the length of the message.

On 4/23/11 10:07 PM, Riemer Thalen wrote:

But before I unsubscribe I would really appreciate you answering a few
questions that still bother me.

Why you should unsubscribe. We need people enthusiastic about marketing, but we also need people willing to learn how to work inside the community. So, my intention was not to throw you away, but to tell you that working together inside the community - and accepting all the peculiarities of the community - is the best solution, and the most "profitable" for the community.

Anyway, I'm happy to answer you questions.

Given the fact that OOo/LibO is free and MSO costs a lot of money, do
you think OOo did a splendid job as product developers and marketers in
the last ten years?

Sun did a terrible job, probably the worst possible marketing job of all times. I have been criticizing Sun inside the community and also in private meetings for years.

The community of volunteers, on the contrary, did a fabulous job. If you think that with a limited number of people proficient in marketing, with a workforce devoting their spare time to the project and with a budget of 0 (zero) the community has managed to grow from nowhere to 15 per cent market share worldwide and over 20 per cent in some countries, the result is amazing.

FOSS is not supposed to reach market dominance using the same tools of commercial companies (otherwise it would not be FOSS), but to educate users willing to discover the advantages of freedom in software.

If you really want to compete with MSO, shouldn't you be working for the
market rather than the community?

We are not working for the community, we are working to grow the community from the community. It is true that many users are and will never be community members, but we cannot forget that without the help of the community a software like LibreOffice would not exhist.

In addition, we do not want to compete with MS Office in the same way that Microsoft is competing with us. We want to offer an alternative to users, but if they feel that MS Office is a good solution for them and are willing to pay the associated costs, then we are happy as much as these users are happy in using MS Office.

Is it possible the community focus and the neglect of market orientation
are important factors LibO still is no match for MSO?

LibreOffice will never match MS Office, because it lacks the same resources. It is already amazing how much we are doing without a real budget and without any paid employee, against a company with a budget of several hundred million dollars. This is a matter of fact, and we accept the situation.

The progress of FOSS projects is necessarily slow, in comparison with commercial ones. FOSS simply belongs to a different environment, which is based on ethics, mutual respect, reciprocal trust and support, and a number of other reason which are frequently specific of each individual (and you will discover them only with time and patience).

Last quarter (!), MS made a 6 billion (!) profit on MSO. How come when
there is a free alternative? Put bluntly, the world is paying 24 billion
dollars MSO tax for not having to use LibO. Isn't that something the
community should worry about?

As I have told you before, we are not worried by MS results, although we follow them with a great deal of attention. Therefore, we know that MS - although it still makes an awful amount of money from MS Office - is worried by FOSS to the point of mentioning it in the Q-10 form they provide to the SEC, because their turnover has not been growing at the same pace of the PC market for several years.

Why aren't those "people with a decent
marketing background" more vocal? All marketing posts are about logo's
and folders. Don't you think that improving the product and meeting user
demands should be the main topic?

If you look further than the mailing lists, you would discover that we have a respectable coverage on media in many countries (in some cases, on par with MS Office), thanks to several people inside the community, and that we are - of course - discussing about the future developments of the product.

A FOSS project based on a community has very little in common with a commercial software project. Judging from a single mailing list is not enough, and is limited and misleading.

Do you really think product specifications should be determined by
technical developers and geeks? Or do you agree that the only judge of
what consitutes a "good application" is the average user nobody seems to
be interested in?

First of all, we are the first users of our software, and we do care about ourselves. In addition, we care for the average user as well. Do you know that there are user@ mailing lists in several languages, where volunteers answer user requests? Do you know that there is a constant exchange of information between the developers and the users on the development mailing list?

We do care a lot for users, but we do care in a completely different way from commercial open source software.

If you had read my post properly, you would have noticed I don't want to
ask what features average users want. I'm not that stupid. I want to ask
them what made them dump OOo/LibO.

First, if someone dumps OOo or LibreOffice because he prefers to use MS Office for any reason (features, ribbon, document format, etcetera), we are happy for him.

If someone dumps OOo or LibreOffice because he feels that he has been mismanaged by the community, then we are worried. We do not offer just features, we offer a different experience. Of course, the majority of users looks at features but we would like them to understand that we offer something completely different and more inclusive.

Finally,  do you think it is a good idea to change the brand name in
Brazil without any precautions? I don't know Brazil, I don't know the
Brazilian community. And you are right, I have no knowledge of the
Brazilian "producer issues". But I simply do not believe the average
Brazilian user is so different from the rest of the world that a change
of brand name does not affect him and a goodwill transfer is a
superfluous step.

You have probably received a message from Olivier Hallot, explaining the situation with further details.

The brand BROffice is owned by an individual, and we must switch to LibreOffice now, without any goodwill transfer, for reasons that are probably difficult to understand but cannot be discussed. The owner does allow to use the BROffice brand any more.

Of course we know that the transition is going to be difficult, and that there are challenges which are difficult to overcome. This is the main challenge of volunteers: going against the unknown, or against all odds. It is an unvaluable lesson for every individual, because it helps to understand the value of working together against the selfishness of fighting against each other.

Italo, I will unsubscribe and bother you nomore. I trust you will crush
MSO with a free top-notch product and superior marketing.

We will never crush MS Office, because we do not need to crush any product. We believe that FOSS has a superior model, which is good for many but not for everyone, and we are happy with our choice.

By the way, MS has appointed a product manager against OOo/LO in the main European markets, starting from Italy (where I have been handling OOo marketing activities since 2004). Commercial suites from IBM and Corel have never achieved 5% market share (while OOo/LO is well over 20 per cent), and have never been mentioned in the Q-10 statement from MS, although they were from respected companies handling marketing in a traditional way.

So, although we have used our somehow weird development pattern, we have been able to create more problem to MS than companies well know for their sales and marketing skills. Something to think about, as MS itself is doing (I can tell you that they keep a close eye on what we do, at every level inside the company).

Best regards, Italo

Italo Vignoli
mobile +39.348.5653829
VoIP +39.02.320621813
skype italovignoli

Unsubscribe instructions: E-mail to
Posting guidelines + more:
List archive:
All messages sent to this list will be publicly archived and cannot be deleted


Privacy Policy | Impressum (Legal Info) | Copyright information: Unless otherwise specified, all text and images on this website are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. This does not include the source code of LibreOffice, which is licensed under the Mozilla Public License (MPLv2). "LibreOffice" and "The Document Foundation" are registered trademarks of their corresponding registered owners or are in actual use as trademarks in one or more countries. Their respective logos and icons are also subject to international copyright laws. Use thereof is explained in our trademark policy.