Has the Irresistible Rise of OpenOffice.org Begun?


Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm a big fan of OpenOffice.org, and that I think it has the potential to break through into the mainstream. Maybe it's already begun, judging by these figures from webmasterpro.de:

The numbers were collected using a novel methodology: Over two hundred thousand international visitors where analysed by the web statistics service FlashCounter. By checking (using Javascript) which fonts where installed on the system, we could identify the installed Office suites.

Spread around the world, those 200,000 users aren't a huge number, so I'd take the numbers quoted with large doses of NaCl. But even in their general indications, they are pretty remarkable. For example, Poland clocks up 22% for OpenOffice.org against Microsoft Office's 68%; the Czech Republic also had 22%, against 76%; while Germany did well with 21% and 72%. Nations in descending order thereafter were France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden and Austria.

The UK, almost needless to say, turned in a miserable 9% - the same as the US – alongside a massive and sheeplike 80% use of Microsoft Office (75% in the US). Shame.

What's interesting about these figures – particularly the high numbers in certain countries – is that it takes OpenOffice.org into the same kind of market-share territory that Firefox occupied a few years back. Which raises two interesting questions. First, are we seeing the start of the same kind of growth trajectory, and secondly, how can the open source community help propel it along that graph more rapidly?

As Simon Phipps rightly pointed out on Twitter, this development would make now a spectacularly bad time for Ubuntu to drop OpenOffice.org from its Netbook edition: on the contrary, it should go all-out to promote it as broadly as possible if it cares about the larger free software ecosystem. Maybe something for the incoming COO, Matt Asay, to think about in his first week at Canonical....

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