IBM Joins OpenOffice.org (The Quick Analysis)
It's official — IBM has joined the OpenOffice.org project. [There's good reporting and analysis from Andy Updegrove and Redmonk's Stephen O'Grady. Update (12 Sep): Here's Andy's interview with IBM's Doug Heintzman, Director of Strategy for the Lotus division.]
Here's the back of the envelop analysis.
From the OpenOffice.org community perspective, I'm guessing Louis Suarez-Potts (OO.o Community Manager) is feeling good to get a new injection of code/energy. This is great for the community. The OpenOffice suite keeps getting better and better, but new blood with new code could provide a much needed boost.
Overall Sun Microsystems is probably [very] happy IBM is supporting OpenOffice.org directly. This is a much better situation than IBM building some form of ODF development platform inside Eclipse.org to enable ODF over OOXML, with OpenOffice.org hit as collateral damage. [This would be sort of ironic since Eclipse helped to pull the Java centre-of-gravity away from Sun, and Visual Studio was collateral damage (or icing depending upon one's perspective).] Collaboration is the much stronger market play here for Sun and IBM, and most importantly OO.o users and customers.
From the IBM perspective, this is brilliant business as usual. ODF is the global leverage they need to crack open the Microsoft Office marketplace. (I've written ad nauseam that ODF and Microsoft Office is just another example of Christensen economics in motion. Microsoft has over-delivered on Office. They mistakenly think more innovation faster is the answer. Let the chips fall where they may.) IBM will likely use OpenOffice to front-end Lotus and the Domino server product lines, and anchor their business messages to their customers's needs around standards and open source software, much the same as they do with Eclipse and the Websphere developer world. Their claims are that much stronger with this announcement.
Sun gave Gnome a huge leg up about four years ago when they contributed a wealth of their accessibility technology R+D. IBM will now contribute the same into OpenOffice.org. It means they can easily manage their way through U.S. government procurement regulation in this space. Once again brilliant IP management from IBM, and good for OO.o users and customers. [For those that have heard me present, this is exactly what I mean about having a mature intellectual asset strategy, and being generous exactly in order to play to win.]
A strengthened OpenOffice.org will help Novell immeasurably to keep their distance with Microsoft on the desktop. Novell has done a lot of work with OO.o in the past. They have a great desktop Linux product. They can simply take a ride on this one and eat the benefits. There's really nothing Microsoft can say here. Regardless of any agreements around OOXML that Novell may have with Microsoft, Novell comes out clean on the ODF front as customers demand it.
I noticed the press release includes a quote from Beijing's Redflag Chinese 2000 Software Co., Ltd., the makers of Redflag Linux and RedOffice. This is significant. Apparently last November I was one of the first people to blog about the document format work in China that led to a Chinese national standard (UOF). Redflag Chinese 2000 was implementing UOF in Red Office (the Chinese packaging of OO.o). There is work afoot to harmonize ODF and UOF. And clearly Redflag Chinese 2000 remains committed to the OO.o effort.
So despite the bluff and bluster, the OOXML camp inside Microsoft should not be sleeping well at this point.
"Don't blink. Blink and you're dead. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And don't blink. Good luck!" — the Doctor