Generally, when a company wants to open a new market it needs to spend months to years dumping money into it to stoke demand.
MySQL and other open-source companies do market development a little differently. They dump software to seed a market. Lots of software.
Sun executive and former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos discusses this in a recent article with Computer Business Review:
I would say the ratio [between raw downloads and installations] is between one in one hundred and one in one thousand. If you look at averages you get useless information, because we might get 10 million downloads in China and we know almost none of them will pay anything in the near future. In the web 2.0 space, most will pay. In countries with a high GDP, many will pay, and in those with a low economy absolutely nobody will pay today.
The old model would have had MySQL spending money on sales and business development teams in these emerging markets, trying to figure out when and how to scale teams there. In open source, the customers download the software and tell you when they're ready to buy.
More efficient. More productive. More intelligent. And it's not just a matter of emerging markets. It's also a matter of emerging customers. Mickos goes on to say:… Read more