Dear Mr. Ellison,
I'm sure there are many reasons for Oracle buying Sun. You might not be having meetings this week about OpenOffice.org. You might be having meetings next week about spinning it off into a foundation. But if you keep interest or control over OpenOffice.org, please consider the following.
You know how huge, and pervasive, the use of Microsoft Office is. You know the massive amounts of partner and corporate revenue that comes not just from selling the product but from associated services and add-on products. (The certification program alone generates a decent chunk of change.) So you know that getting a bigger market share for OpenOffice.org would be a nice benefit to Oracle.
On that note, let me make my laundry list for what I think is important for OpenOffice.org. My letter to Santa Claus, perhaps; my wish list for a win/win/win situation for Oracle, users, and of course me and other OpenOffice.org providers of products and services.
Tell them about it. 10 years after starting on StarOffice, I still introduce myself in one sentence, "I do training and educational materials for OpenOffice.org; it's like Microsoft but free and, I think, superior in many ways." Nobody looks at me weird for explaining what it is: 10 years after Sun started making StarOffice available. This is bad. Do what you have to: work with the Obama administration, go on Oprah, sponsor a Nascar driver, get it on "Lost." Do whatever it takes. We need name recognition.
Certification. I don't know who said it, but I believe it: if you measure it and reward it, people will do it. A certification program analogous to Microsoft's is essential for a variety of improvements to perception and adoption of OpenOffice.org. And it's not a bad revenue generator, either.
Partnerships and bundling. I don't need to tell you the advantages of having a product already pre-installed on hardware and included in other packages, but I'm sure not going to leave it out of this list. People who just start using OpenOffice.org without even knowing that it's not Microsoft Office also have a way easier time than those who fear change because they know it's different.
Libraries, schools, government. They don't have a lot of money. They should have no barrier to interaction. Give them OpenOffice.org. Go out and deliver it to them.
Partners. Help us. Make it easy for people like me to connect to customers. Make it easy for customers to find me and my products. Get a big, fabulous, easy-to-use, great-looking portal web site going to let customers find providers and vice versa. Maybe make a partner certification program (optional, and affordable). Maybe make one big Amazon-type site where all partners can list their products and services. We're out there, we're just harder to find than Microsoft's partners.
It works. It's good. Don't be under any illusion that it can't compete with Microsoft from a quality standpoint. The wizards aren't there and it would be nice to have an easier way to get clip art and templates (see above re the portal web site).
I will go on Oprah with you if you can get the booking. And I'm happy to go to the White House with you, too, to demo and discuss OpenOffice.org as one of the ways to save $100 million at a time.
Thanks for reading,