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Linux Business The Almighty Buck

Linux Ecosystem Is Worth $25 Billion 176

darthcamaro writes "How much is Linux worth today? That's a question the Linux Foundation is trying to answer in a new report expected to be released on Wednesday.
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Linux Ecosystem Is Worth $25 Billion

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  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday October 20, 2008 @11:53AM (#25441835) Homepage Journal

    It's a little more complex than that because an individual business does have a quantifiable worth: in the case of a publicly traded company, it's their stock valuation; in the case of a privately held company, it's how much they'd get if they went public. (Note that I'm not saying this is an accurate measure, but it is at least something you can put a number on.) You could, if you wanted to and you had enough money, buy any corporation for a precisely tabulated amount. With Linux, there's nothing to buy out -- you could buy all the companies that make money distributing it (Red Hat etc.) and you still wouldn't own it.

    From the market-value-is-everything POV, this means Linux has infinite value, which clearly isn't true. But it does make it a lot harder to count up than, say, the value of Windows or Mac OS.

  • I Love Linux, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Monday October 20, 2008 @11:53AM (#25441837) Homepage Journal

    The only tidbit of info I have so far is that the LInux Foundation has valued Google's use of Linux for Android at $1.3 billion worth of R&D.

    Value can only be attributed towards things that can be bought and sold.

    This is therefore an example of Post hoc ergo propter hoc []; ie., just because Linux foundation says the Linux footprint is worth $25 Billion, is a fallicy because nobody can purchase it. It could show a measure of the rate of Linux adoption, but such suggestions must be understood by looking at the bigger picture. Who's losing when Linux is being adopted and also, which projects are not going with Linux?

    There is also the long-tail of Linux adoption that couldn't possibly be accounted in their figure.

    I must maintain that the big picture is currently too big for anyone to fully interpret at present, especially the Linux foundation who is subject to some considerable bias.

    You can't sell the Linux ecosystem, and if you believe you can buy it -- I have a bridge to sell you (please contact me right away because I also have some important Nigerian business that requires you immmmmediate and humbling attention, kind sirs.)

    I like Linux, but these types of concepts are rooted in Non Sequitur; that the buy-in of Linux is rooted in the success of Linux. That can only be true of this is a zero-sum claim, and there is evidence of losses directly attributed which while plausible does not make these factually relevant.

  • by glop ( 181086 ) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:25PM (#25442303)

    25 Billion $ is a lot of money.

    Additionally, if we follow your reasoning, many companies that have products that could be sold for Linux will think : Linux = 5% of Windows. They will conclude that they could increase their sales by 5% by supporting Linux.

    That could sound like an interesting deal for many companies.

  • by mfh ( 56 ) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:38PM (#25442503) Homepage Journal

    A occurred, then B occurred.
    Therefore, A caused B.

    A: Linux is worth $25 Billion
    B: Microsoft market share has decreased

    Therefore A caused B? No. There is no evidence of that.

    I love Linux but that kind of logic is simply flawed and therefore people who love Microsoft could use it against OSS in their sales pitch. A good part of OSS is the ability to have groupthink be thwarted by the input from many open (freely offered) sources. I happen to be a proponent of OSS.

    A: Linux is worth $25 Billion
    B: Microsoft market share has increased

    Therefore A caused B?

    Linux foundation is suggesting that their value of Linux is somehow relevant. It's not that relevant.

    How can you put a value on something that is inherently invaluable? How do you account for the savings of using free products that also cause additional savings (from avoiding security holes, for example).

    You cannot attribute a price on the value of Linux. It's simply priceless and that was the intent of my original comment.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:28PM (#25443319) Homepage

    I wonder how much the Linux ecosystem would be worth if it were valued by an organization that didn't have a vested interest.

    Depends on if they have a vested interest in the other way.

    Microsoft would argue that Linux clearly has a negative value due to all of those patents which it may or may not be infringing on and the licensing fees you owe them.

    IBM will argue it has a high value since they make gobs of money on services as a result of it.

    At some point, you have to try to value it in terms of industry revenues associated with it, as well as the intangible value of how long it would take to build your own, or to buy a commercial solution to replace it.

    If every company using Linux were forced to replace it with a Microsoft solution, I can easily see the valuation to industry being measured in the billions.

    In terms of the resources being managed under Linux machines, how they're used, and what it would take to swap them out ... there's an awful lot of stuff you'd have to be spending a lot of money on to replace.


  • by entgod ( 998805 ) on Monday October 20, 2008 @04:34PM (#25445827)
    Even though people wouldn't pay for something it doesn't mean it doesn't have any value. I certainly wouldn't pay for my linux distro but it is of tremendous value to me, I use it for many things with it most people would pay money (in form of buying windows) to do. The fact that it's hard to attach an accurate monetary value to something doesn't mean it doesn't have any.

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.