‘the competition’ and comparative analysis…

Posted: June 30, 2010 in fedora

In the past for the SWOT, I believe it was in the best interest of people to provide a small comparative analysis with our ‘competitors’, eventually I got bashed down for using the terminology ‘competitors’. I understand people’s position and many times I get scared by ‘@redhat.com’.

So here’s something to educate people, and of course you can do ‘open marketing’, but before you even approach that concept, think by yourself: Do we have closed door meetings? I mean, I heard a lot about the Board, but I actually don’t see any strategical output from them regarding strategical issues, and this is the first point which can be used to bash down open marketing.

But since I’m not a ‘open marketing’ guy, what does traditional marketing say about this ‘competition’:

Strategical Marketing is mainly support by military theories and in many ways uses the same terminology as the military. A fine example:

“No general would order an army to march without first fully knowing the enemy’s position and intentions. Similarly, before deciding which competitive moves to make, a firm must be aware of the perspective of its competitors” – Hollensen, 2003, pag 168.

Now who are the competitors? Well the competitors of Fedora or Red Hat are not defined neither by Red Hat or Fedora, from the marketing scope of view, the competitors are identified by our users, and a competitor is someone which offers a product or service that can replace partially or completly ours. From this scope, Ubuntu, Slackware, Debian, Arch Linux, openSUSE, etc are competitors. This doesn’t mean that we must fight on a ‘dog-eat-dog’ world, but that doesn’t also justify that we can’t approach them as competitors.

Why do you want a Marketing Team if you try to handicap the very own basic concepts of Marketing?! Sure stick with open marketing… Like an ancient saying: you reap what you sow.

Every day that passes, I start to believe that indeed, there is no need for Marketeers in FOSS Projects. Most of what we say seems trivial, most of what we use on our daily life seems to be redifined by some obscure concept… We even have to drop the way on how we face things, not to mention other issues, like lobby powers inside the community (oh yeah, the /PT incident, thank God the websites/infra-structure team had a wise head).

I’m wondering why Fedora strategically as a Community Distro choosed a ‘Nicher strategy’. This makes no sense to me… Makes all the sense for Commercial Linux, not for Community Linux!

I’m wondering what our real strategy is! I’m sure Marketing can’t help without clearing that out… some say everything happens for a reason, I’m wondering still which one that would be.

  1. Your analogy doesn’t really work, because Fedora isn’t in a situation remotely comparable to an army at war.

    Really what Fedora needs in terms of marketing is positive marketing. We need to get out the message about what Fedora does well. This doesn’t need to be in terms of ‘Fedora does X better than distro Y’ or ‘Fedora does X better than Windows’. It just needs to be ‘Look what a good job Fedora did with X!’ The comparisons don’t need to be drawn. We just need to talk about what we’re doing well.

    • aborrecido says:


      On a competitive analysis you get this information:
      * 1st Level > Brand
      * 2nd Level > Product
      * 3rd Level > Cathegory
      * 4th Level > Benefit
      * 5th Level > Budget

      The output of this information will allow you to take actions and help your strategy. This doesn’t show you if you are better or worst. I think you are thinking of ‘Competitive Analysis’ in the way of a Review in a Magazine, while in fact it’s essense is far different.

      The main point behind it is to provide you information that might lead you to improve your stuff, in this case Fedora, not showing we are better than the others.

      About the military, this is tightly related to strategies in order to defend your project/venture from possible threats. Just some examples:

      * Flank Defense (practiced by Starbucks)
      * Antecipated Defense (practiced by Seiko)
      * Counter Offensive Defense (practiced by Michellin)
      * plus about 4 more or so.

      Why is this important ? Because something you have as a Foundation: FIRST (unless I’m wrong). Your FIRST foundation can be interpreted by any marketeer as a ‘leading position’, and if you want to keep this Foundation alive, you have better odds if you embrace strategical marketing and prepare yourself.

      I understand the whole concept of ‘we are all friends contributing for the same’ and that the real threat is proprietary software… and so on… but the issue comes right after you ‘future user base’ which focus on a very strict set of users, that’s why I mentioned it as Fedora aiming for a niche, because all work is actually being done to target this niche.

      This brings up another window! To better perform this strategy, Marketing advices you at least with this (and it should be taken seriously):

      * Specialization in Vertical Strategies;
      * Specialization in specific users (like your future user base);
      * Specialization in Product/Service (this translates your FIRST and FEATURES foundations and the real nature of Fedora Linux);
      * Specialization in Product/Service Attributes;
      * Specialization in Service (back into Fedora Linux again);
      * Specialization in Channel.

      It’s not my fault that much of this strategies are based on military terminology, but if we consider for example the future user base (which I believe is a bit away from the ‘Community Linux’ message) Marketing could help on this… but not stripping off all the tools and concepts in which all of this relies.

      As for ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ marketing, since we are on the field of diagnosis, when you go to the doctor, is he exercising ‘negative’ medicine if he points to a cancer and ‘positive’ medicine if he says all is ok.

      Does this makes more sense? My bad in publishing this without proper support for some concepts, I will make them available in the nearby future. The main point was if we want to know why some get better results than us, we could do it by a comparative analysis, so that we would focus on a set a measures that would allow us to improve our stuff, not saying others are worst or better than us.

      People need to drop the idea that Marketing is about sales, that falacious.


  2. Stop taking a simple idea and making it needlessly complicated.

    Identify the things that Fedora does well, and talk about them in simple language that everybody can understand.

    Simplify and amplify. That’s all.

  3. Manuel says:

    In simple words … KISS!

    Manuel Benedito

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