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Re: [OT] Google Trends

On Sat, 13 May 2006, Antonio Montagnani wrote:

FWIW, Microsoft too is trending downward. It doesn't mean anything.

Nice exercise in nothing though

To the contrary. Comparative trend analysis tells you a LOT. For example, try


Looks bad for Perl. Until you try:

perl, programming, "visual basic"


It isn't that Perl specifically is dying in people's minds - it is part of a more general trend in the industry - relative to the rest of the industry it isn't "underperforming". You can tell they are strongly coupled by the correlations between the small movements in the lines.

The Google Trends tool is far from useless - but you do need to understand what it is telling you. In this case that the programming industry continues to show weakness.

And it should definitely concern Red Hat that

fedora, redhat | "red hat", ubuntu, suse, debian

(note the '|' technique to get an 'or' of redhat with "red hat" for the trends) shows their primary brand losing 'mind market' against all the other major distributions on a sustained trend and their 'loss feeder/beta RH' distribution of Fedora Core showing signs of weakness/stagnation with users as well.

They have very successfully monetized their previous leadership position from the RH1.x-RH9.x distributions- but they may be eating their seed-corn in the process as the Fedora Core upgrade treadmill induces people to look for cheaper, reasonably current but still reasonably stable alternatives.

The 'climb rate' and 'anti-correlation' of recent popularity moves of Ubuntu vs everyone else (you can see the same effect with Mandriva and Slackware trends, BTW) suggests that Ubuntu has become the preferred major distribution among new users and that it is starting to cannibalize the FC userbase (along with the RH, SUSE, Slackware, Mandriva and Debian userbases).

It will be interesting to watch what happens as Ubuntu Server becomes better known.

Don't mistake me as being anti-RH. I've used them as my primary distribution and liked them for the most part (modulo some very irritating moves in recent FC distributions that are leading me to consider alternatives) for most of the last 8 or 9 years or so. But it is foolish to deny the obvious that they have lost market share relative to the other major distributions to the point where they are no longer the 'market leader' in terms of simple volume of new installations.

Which is not to deny that this may be fine for them right now. As a profit oriented company as they are clearly still the market leader in terms of being successful at actually making money selling a Linux distribution. _For them_ lower volume with higher profits is fine as long as the lower volume doesn't start to prevent the higher profits by going _too_ low.

But it has to be concerning to see their trend line continue to go down for the last two and half years. That _is_ a problem. At some point their trend line has to stabilize or they will be be in real trouble as a company.

Benjamin Franz

I don't care how many levels of reality you posit; as soon as you posit even
one it's turtles all the way down.
                                             ---Nova Spivak

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