Re: [board-discuss] Proposed rebranding in global perspective
On 2020/07/12 22:59, Tuomas Hietala wrote:
The big issue I'd like to bring up is that the assumptions behind the marketing plan and
Michael's analysis seem to be somewhat anglo/eurocentric, or perhaps more accurately global north
/ major language centric".
That is because historically:
* LibreOffice made the most inroads in western/central Europe;
* Has been dominated by L1 & L2 users of English;
** If L1 & L2 users of Spanish dominated, the marketing plan would be
more Hispanic orientated;
** If L1 & L2 readers of Kanji/Hanzi dominated, the marketing plan would
be more CJKV orientated;
The hope/expectation is that the local (country/language) community will
adapt it, to their local needs & issues.
I live in Finland (very much in the global north, but not a player in the major language league
hear that in some countries lots of big companies are using LO and finding it as good as to need
neither paid support nor MS Office.
Typically, what has happened, is that some idiot convinced the company
that FLOSS was gratis, and that that also mean that support was gratis.
Since the value proposition that they were sold on, was that there
would never be a financial outlay for FLOSS, that is what they do.
This value proposition pops up, whenever politicians try to move their
government agency from FLOSS to a proprietary solution. Obviously, it is
misleading, but technically, it is not inaccurate.
Finland, MSO is ubiquitous in government and business, and the only "enterprise-scale"
deployments of LO I'm aware of are in schools and universities. Even there, MS Office is
generally the primary, recommended office suite, with LO offered as an alternative.
That is pretty much the case, wherever Microsoft has established itself.
Countries like Finland where LO struggles to be taken seriously in
business and government, whether due to political priorities or
interoperability issues or insufficient localisation (I'm working on
that...) or insufficient lobbying or lack of training materials or lack
of a volunteer support community are in a completely different situation
than countries like the UK where ODF is adopted in the government and all
https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=76842 is from a
government agency in the UK, that didn't have a support contract.
ODF might be official government policy, but funding for LibreOffice
the world's English-language tutorials, templates and volunteer support are just one internet
search away. Focusing marketing efforts on nudging
non-paying users into buying support is premised on the idea that there are lots of happy
non-paying users in enterprise settings, which I doubt
is true at all in many parts of the world.
The interesting question is whether most of the world is more like
Finland or more like the UK in this respect. I'd be interested if
someone has actually done research on this, but my wild guess would be
more like Finland.
But another question arises: can you make more money by serving countries like Finland or
countries like the UK? Most likely the latter.
The figure to look at, is gross profit, not gross revenue.
(Google translate is acting up on me, again, so I had to rely on my
ability to read/translate Finnish.)
If I understood the Finnish government site on SMBs, the average SMB in
Finland has a lower annual gross revenue, than the average SMB in the
UK. However, it looks like their profit margins were about the same.
Looking at the data from Lesotho, both gross revenue, and profit margins
for SMBs are lower than the Finland.
Creating a new market is expensive. Maybe for Finland, definitely for
Lesotho, a tech support company would literally be creating the market
for FLOSS. In Finland, the "gift economy" aspect of FLOSS might not have
as dramatic a negative impact on revenue, as in Lesotho.
So I can understand very well that the ecosystem companies want to go after untapped potential in
these large markets first. That's
certainly their right, but TDF's mission is not to serve only the major languages and the global
Over the last twenty or so years, there have been organisations, usually
non-profit, in various parts of the globe, whose mission has been to
introduce FLOSS to minority language users. Their efforts have subsided
over time, mainly due to a combination of inadequate funding, and well
placed bribes by vendors of proprietary solutions.
In talking with people who study, and protect extinct/endangered
languages, they uniformly emphasized that what is needed is for the
tools to be able to correctly display the glyphs, and provides accurate
spell checking and grammar checking. Users, for the most part, are
bilingual in both the endangered language, and the local dominant
language. Having the UI in a language other than the endangered one, is
usually acceptable, but some groups do consider it a matter pride, when
the UI is in their language, even if they can't read it.
Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian,
Japanese, Punjabi, German, Javanese, Malay, Telugu, Viet, Korean,
French, Marathi, Tamil, or Urdu is the L1 language of roughly 57% of the
global population. The L1 or L2 language of roughly 90% of the global
population, is one of those languages.
Thus, I would expect the major players in the LibreOffice Ecosystem to
support those languages, whilst local firms did the hard work of
evangelising FLOSS, providing l10n services, support, and bug fixes for
the other 5990 odd natural languages that are currently spoken.
The code that the ecosystem companies commit into LO benefits everyone
regardless of country or language, of course. But TDF should still be
careful not to alienate the volunteer community. I'd say in most cases,
without volunteer localisers drawn from an existing userbase, there
would be no business opportunity for the ecosystem companies. The market
for professional support outside of the major languages is unlikely to
bootstrap itself without help from volunteers, governments or NGOs.
Typically, what happens with government funding, is that one gets an
initial grant, to translate, or localise a specific program/group of
programs, but there is no follow-up money, and locally generated revenue
doesn't cover enough to fund ongoing l10n development.
The ideal scenario, is that after the initial localisation is done, a
local commercial outfit gets a support contract with a government
agency, which is enough to cover both the needs of the specific agency,
and fund ongoing l10n development.
Ideally, the code changes from the L10N work, go upstream, and are
incorporated in future product releases.
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