12 January 2007

Free Software by Numbers

With my previous caveat, this report from Rishab Aiyer Ghosh into the state of free software in Europe looks to contain important material, with some eye-catching figures:

• The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable quality control and distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally. This code base has been doubling every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is projected to continue for several more years.

• This existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of about 131 000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted exclusively by programmers. As this is mostly by individuals not directly paid for development, it represents a significant gap in national accounts of productivity. Annualised and adjusted for growth this represents at least Euro 800 million in voluntary contribution from programmers alone each year, of which nearly half are based in Europe.

• Firms have invested an estimated Euro 1.2 billion in developing FLOSS software that is made freely available. Such firms represent in total at least 565 000 jobs and Euro 263 billion in annual revenue. Contributing firms are from several non-IT (but often ICT intensive) sectors, and tend to have much higher revenues than non-contributing firms.

• Defined broadly, FLOSS-related services could reach a 32% share of all IT services by 2010, and the FLOSS-related share of the economy could reach 4% of European GDP by 2010. FLOSS directly supports the 29% share of software that is developed in-house in the EU (43% in the U.S.), and provides the natural model for software development for the secondary software sector.

(Via Erwin Tenhumberg.)

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