Asia produces some of the brightest minds in software programming and science yet does not appear to have originated any sustainable open source companies. By definition I mean companies based in Asia that originate or control open source software. My friends joke that all of Asia is open source, but that is a topic for another day.
NOTE: Some of the giant US corporations like Sun and IBM have open source outposts in India and China but for our purposes they don’t count since they are headquartered in the US or Europe.
I was shocked to discover that given the need for young, underfunded upstarts in Asia to be able to compete with US and European software companies that there doesn’t appear to be much home grown open source development in Asia. Thus, they are missing a big opportunity to leverage open source as a business model. Having access to a pool of billions to help develop code or applications is a huge competitive advantage.
Asia should be leading the way in open source because it knows how to develop global solutions that work on a very large scale, especially those that are technology intensive (witness India’s response to Y2K). Interestingly, parts of Asia are still chaotic, so it understands the need to adapt First World solutions to the chaotic environment of the Third World. But what’s held them back?
Asian countries need to encourage an open source ecosystem to release the latent potential of its huge entrepreneurial pool of people. In turn, Asia will not only create valuable companies that make shareholders wealthy, but could also pave the way for software companies that compete with the largest in the world.
In the end, Asia can’t continue to do the software development work of others. It’s software innovation capability must be slowly ingrained into the DNA of the business culture. What better way than open source?
I believe as Asian companies find the benefits of open source, they will use the business model to surpass it’s American and European competitors in terms of innovation. Yet, Asian businesses must take that difficult first step towards creating new open source companies. Step one: trust the model is going to work – yes even in Asia.
Do you know of any Asian born open source companies? Please comment below and share them with the readers.
(Cross-posted @ Seek Omega)