Last Saturday I participated in Mozilla24 a cyber and physical event organized by the Mozilla foundation. The overall event took place in France, Japan, Thailand and the US. The panel discussion I was in was only (I assume for time zone reasons) in France, Japan and Thailand.
In France, it was held at ENST (a Telecommunication Engineering School in Paris), in a rather ugly auditorium (like most auditoriums of French engineering schools). It seemed from the pictures on the screen that they had found similarly ugly places in Japan and Thailand. Which means the glitter was in the technology rather than in the setting.
The technology was indeed impressive: good and clear communication around the globe, possible interaction between the sites and good quality sound and video. On the other hand, there were lots of people busy pulling wires and frantically typing on keyboards, so I assume there was a lot of work behind the seemingly effortless exercise.
Participants in France were OpenOffice.org (Charles Schulz), Wikimedia (Pierre Beaudoin), Mozilla Europe (Tristan Nitot) and Mandriva (yours truly).
Tristan was his usual mix of fun, kindness and smart and told us some cute stories on the beginning of Mozilla in France, when life was tough (it is much better now). He had given each presenter a list of questions to answer and to my surprise everyone followed the scenario he had provided.
In my presentation, I explained the three key words which drive our strategy: simple, innovative and open. Simple as in “take technology to the masses by making it simple”, innovative as “include innovations in the distro to take them mainstream” and open as in “open source, free software and open standards”. Then I went to our focus on bringing Linux to emerging markets via OEM relationships, as we are doing today for instance in Brazil and Argentina.
I had a question on fighting Microsoft in emerging markets. This is a good question: we indeed met them recently when they offered $3 licenses to a prospect we were talking to in an emerging market country (more on this soon)! I had another question on the multiplicity of distros: 5 years from now, will there still be many distros? Our vision is we should see convergence on the lower layers of the distro, i.e., the core components and the added value of a specific distro should move up in the software stack.