I already wrote something in response to Savio Rodrigues post on the lack of differentiation in R&D expenditure between RedHat (“OSS”) and Microsoft and Tibco (“proprietary”). Savio found in the similar spending in R&D an indication that OSS companies are not implicitly more efficient, while I believe that the differences appear outside balance sheets, both in stronger offering and in competition efficiency, both not apparent in R&D spending.
A recent research from Venice University’s TEDIS seems to match at least part of my hipotesis:
“Infine, confrontando i singoli dati relativi alle sole imprese con fatturato inferiore ai 500.000 euro con la variabile relativa alle classi dimensionali delle aziende clienti (per numero di dipendenti), si può ipotizzare una correlazione tra l’utilizzo di software Open Source e la capacità di attrarre clienti di dimensioni relativamente più grandi. A parità di fatturato, insomma, le aziende “solo Open Source”, sembrano avere maggiori chances di ottenere commesse da aziende con oltre 50 dipendenti (quindi medio-grandi rispetto al nostro universo di riferimento).“
(my english translation: “Finally, comparing the individual data on firms with turnover of less than 500,000 euros with the variable on size classes of customers (by number of employees), one can hipotesize a correlation between the use of software Open Source and the ability to attract customers of relatively larger scale. At the same turnover, in other words, companies “Open Source only” seem to have more chances to obtain work orders from companies with more than 50 employees (ie medium – large compared to our universe of reference).”
This, given the relative similarity of other data (like revenue-per-employee of the cluster) provide at least an hint that OSS gives “leverage” in the kind of activities that a small company can create or propose to the market. As I wrote in my previous post: “In the smallest example (100000 lines of code, still substantial) the average staffing is reduced from more than 20 developers to slightly less than 9, bringing this project within reach even by small companies, and in my personal view it explains the exceptional take-up of OSS by new and innovative companies, that even before external sources of capital (like VCs) are capable of creating non-trivial projects with very limited resources.”