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Open Source Platforms offer a fantastic opportunity for the end user to participate in the development of a product, tailoring it to fit their unique needs. By allowing the user to become the developer, a product can grow to meet the current demands of its customers. That’s a business savvy shortcut to the potentially years-long development cycle that often brings innovation to market after the need or want has passed. As good as it sounds, open source platforms don’t always work. Let’s look at a couple examples of successes and failures.
Open-Source Success: WordPress
One product that depends on open source development in a way that works is WordPress. As users develop applications and themes for the worlds most popular blogging and website development tool, they are required to keep the product up to date or face deletion. WordPress also has a list of guidelines that ensure new themes are secure, and review all submissions for quality and functionality.
Open-Source Success: Linux
When it comes to the world of open-source operating systems, few competitors hold a candle to Linux. With it’s many distributions and forked versions, there’s a flavor of Linux for everyone.
As a non-techie guy, I’m a fan of Linux Mint. It’s a full GUI-based operating system that feels like a cross between Windows 10 and macOS. Best part? It’s totally free and will run on just about any old system you have lying around.
Success & Failure: Android
Android is another perfect example of an open source platform that grows in response to user needs. I am an android fan, but I’ll admit that it has its share of problems. One is unsupported apps. Developers often abandon a project, leaving the end user with a product full of glitches and bugs. Google has recently taken steps to combat this problem by deleting apps from its store that have went unsupported, and recently targeted apps that contained hidden spyware. It’s a step in the right direction, but I will wait and see if the changes ensure better quality apps on my android phone.
Failure: Amazon Smart-Home Products
Amazon is a major retailer who it seems aims to dominate the smart home market. They offer a extensive line of voice activated devices (smart home guide link below) to control and automate many of the activities in your home. It seems like they have something new every few months. But I think Amazon is failing its users by depending on the aftermarket to provide the software and innovation, like android. Their smart home development program just isn’t working. Sure, they have a ton of products to offer, but if you really get into smart home building, you’re bound to have a big host of apps on your phone to control all the devices. Not to mention the obvious fact that you still can’t customize the name of your Alexa device. That’s a pretty big fail that would surely win over consumers.