Matt Assay has an interesting post comparing open source to the parable of sowing seeds. The parable describes how only a small percentage of seed thrown across a field bear fruit, these are the seeds that fall onto ‘good ground’.

Matt correctly ties in ‘good ground’ to the early developers that download FOSS software because they are already interested in the product and have a need for it. These developers act to ‘fertilize’ the market & specific customer (i.e. where they work) demand for the FOSS product.

It would be interesting to study what percentage of early adopter FOSS users would fall into the maven/connector categories that Malcolm Gladwell describes in The Tipping Point. I’d bet it’s a significant amount. This would go a long way to explaining how a few early adopters of a given FOSS project can encourage a market to reconsider their software selection criteria.