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Canonical, Snappy and the marketing value of collaboration

Bryan Lunduke | July 4, 2016
Canonical implies it is collaborating with nearly every major Linux distro for its Snappy project. It is not. And what could have been a marketing win for it is now a loss.

To my knowledge, that is the sum total of the work that was done on this.

So, is Canonical collaborating with the openSUSE project on Snappy? No. Has the project been mentioned to one or two openSUSE community members ever so briefly? Yes. But that does not make for actual collaboration. And it certainly doesn't mean openSUSE will be adopting it.

Why imply collaboration when none exists?

Now, here's the interesting thing (at least to me): Why did Canonical make a point of implying their collaboration with other free software projects-even where collaboration didn't exist?

This implies significant perceived value on the part of Canonical in having a narrative out there in the world that "Canonical collaborates with all of the major Linux distributions." And they wouldn't be wrong. It seems a large portion of the negative sentiment around Canonical and Ubuntu over the last few years stems from the perception of them not playing nicely with others.

Warranted or not, there is a perception that Canonical suffers from a staggering case of Not Invented Here syndrome. What better way to combat that perception than with a story that Canonical collaborates on a huge, awesome scale-with nearly every large Linux distribution out there?

It's a good way to change the public perception in their favor. Makes total sense to me.

But that brings up an additional question. Why imply collaboration without actual collaboration? Clearly Canonical had at least some interaction with some projects. Why not focus on those projects? Why muddy up the story by suggesting collaboration with projects that would, almost surely, publicly correct the record?

Instead of a win for Canonical-showing them collaborating with a few key projects-we have, in the minds of their critics, yet another example of Canonical creating their own solution (where similar solutions already exist) and not working with others on it.

(And, if collaboration was such a critical thing for this project, why require that all contributors sign a Contributor License Agreement before getting involved? CLAs tend to be viewed by many in the open source world as a bit of a barrier to involvement.)

Clearly Canonical is trying to improve the perception of them working with other projects. But it feels like they don't really know how to do that in a way that their target audience can get behind. It's as if they know they have a perception problem, but they don't understand the people whose perception they want to change.

It's sort of like when a gray-haired politician tries to win the favor of young people by busting some dope rhymes. It just makes them look completely out of touch.

Source: NetworkWorld 


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