The “European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry” has launched a study to investigate the impact and role of Free/Libre/Open Source software in the European economy and industry. The study is provided as a pdf file and has almost 300 (!) pages.
I haven’t read it entirely, but at the beginning you will find a summary of the main results of the study. Also for example my #1 news source, the German heise Zeitschriften Verlag, published an article about the study.
The main goals are quite impressive – even for someone who is deep into the topic some of the numbers are surprising. For example: “The existing base of quality FLOSS applications […] would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally.” Quite a number, and it is just about reproducing it internally. Also, the study says this code base doubles (!) all 18-24 months.
Also, one of the results is that there are more FLOSS developers as in the US – with the result that “European FLOSS developers provides a unique opportunity to create new software businesses and reach towards the Lisbon goals of making Europe the most competitive knowledge economy by 2010.” Sounds nice.
But one I haven’t expected at all is this: “weighted by average income, India is the leading provider of FLOSS developers by far, followed by China.” I wasn’t aware that India does that much. In this regards I really hope that the KDE India group can gain from this development. 😉
There are many more numbers, and they are all interesting, so check out the first three pages. Btw., they are not only interesting for European people because they also compare the situation of the EU to the one in the US several times.
Anyway, it is good to see that the FLOSS is now taken serious, and that there are investigations made to get a real picture about the impact FLOSS has. The numbers also help in discussions – for example the next time a Windows Vista advertising guy tells you that Windows Vista will be connected to several thousand jobs tell him that FLOSS also is connected to more than half a million jobs.
On the other hand some recommended strategies are very important, and it was time that someone said it: it must be made sure that there is no vendor lock in in the public education sector: “teaching student skills, not specific applications” I like that one pretty much, because it is exactly what is going wrong in several classes.
All in all it seems to be an impressive piece of work, based on scientifically aggregated data. Definitely worth for everyone interested in the topic “FLOSS and economy”.