Market share vs market impact

This is very relevant in the context of the EU probe of the Oracle-Sun takeover. MySQL’s share of the database market, which is usually measured by revenue, is of course peanuts and estimated range from half a percent to something slightly more. Peanuts.

This is not surprising, considering an estimated 999 out of every 1000 MySQL users does not pay Sun/MySQL anything (although some might be Open Query clients ;-) and while MySQL has been targeting higher-end clients and corresponding higher revenue, its pricing is still far lower than the premium-cost of Oracle, DB2 and the like.

All this proves very clearly something which I’ve been saying for years (do scan back in my blog ;-), the definition of market share is borked when it comes to Open Source and low-end disruptors (MySQL has been both although it might no longer be a low-end disruptor, having overshot the needs of a significant chunk of its users). The market impact (usage and influence) of such products is much greater than their revenue. So we have to consider, what matters most? I think the usage and influence matters most, but usage is difficult to measure for OSS, and influence is a subjective issue. Analysts go for solid numbers, and therefore revenue is a sensible -and traditionally reasonably accurate- way to see how things are, including in terms of influence and usage.

So, what is interesting about the EU probe is that it appears to acknowledge that little MySQL actually is a big force in the database market, and that is spot on. As to whether it makes sense to stall the takeover while meanwhile Sun is continuing its freefall and vultures IBM, HP and MS are circling around…. that’s a different matter. Having a philosophical debate while the patient is bleeding to death and getting pecked by scavengers… you get the idea. And I believe that Oracle has, all things considered, done a very decent job with InnoDB since its acquisition. With the takeover I’m not entirely convinced either way; it’s definitely interesting stuff playing out, but it shouldn’t be dragged on too much, that doesn’t help anybody.

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