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PC Magazine: Linux Tipping Point

Jul 15, 2003, 23:30 (52 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John C. Dvorak)

"A book first printed in 2000, written during the dot-com mania, redefined the concept of critical mass and created a new buzz term called 'the tipping point.' The full title was The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. The book tried to define the moment at which the balance of the market changes and a product suddenly becomes incredibly popular. This is actually a rehash of older concepts. My favorite term for sudden success was used in the 1980s--'product escape velocity.' Tipping point is a rather passive concept. Escape velocity seems more apt for high tech. I say that because in high tech, things usually either make it into orbit or they don't. They don't bounce all over the place then suddenly go into orbit, which is the path the tipping point describes.

"Applying these two concepts to the current state of Linux yields some interesting ideas. If you apply the escape velocity concept, Linux will never really arrive, because it should have arrived by now. From the tipping point view, Linux may be just biding its time until something causes the tip. I'd like to believe the latter. For one thing, Microsoft is slowly mucking with its own success by introducing all sorts of new modifications to the way it develops and sells software, which means there is more of a possibility of a horrible misstep than ever before. Microsoft could create a tipping point for Linux..."

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