There's a couple of responses which are worth a read. Dave Neary, a member of this team, had some stark comments:
Jeff Waugh, the driving force behind the embedded initiative, states:
One might well argue that the GNOME marketing team has failed to live up to expectations. Some members of the team are doing so and beginning to think about ways to change that situation. As a result, we might well see a more active team in the future. But there is a question which is worth asking here: to what extent might the comments quoted above apply to any project's marketing team? It might just be that a project which is trying to grow its user and development community has little to gain from the formation of a marketing group.
In the corporate environment, a marketing team takes a leading role in identifying potential customers, designing something that those customers might just want to buy, and finding ways to motivate customers to make that purchase. Once a marketing strategy has been worked out and adopted, the rest of the company is expected to work to execute that strategy. In successful companies, marketing tends to lead the way.
Most free software projects are not amenable to this sort of leadership. What gets done in free software is what individual developers decide to do - or are told to do by their employers. Paid developers may well be working toward the execution of a marketing plan, but it's their employer's plan, not the project's plan. Free software hackers will be working to make a project better, but they are not marching to the project's drummer. They will not seek approval from a project's marketing team when they decide what to hack on.
The same is true of project members who work to create initiatives or alliances in a specific area. GNOME's support of embedded applications comes as a result of work by interested developers and the companies which are operating in that area. It was a natural consequence of the way the embedded market is going; there was no need for a marketing team to foresee, plan for, or mandate a bigger role for GNOME in the embedded marketplace. If a GNOME marketing group were to call for such a role, it would have little effect on GNOME developers working on more traditional desktop applications. Free software projects are not corporations; free software users and developers will not wait for a marketing group to sign off on their plans.
Some projects do have marketing organizations which appear to be effective. The push behind the Firefox browser is arguably one of the most prominent examples; the alliances and promotional campaigns which have been arranged have undoubtedly helped to increase adoption of the software. The marketing of packages like MySQL has also been effective. There is a pattern to be seen here: in almost all of the cases where a free software project has had an effective marketing operation, that project is owned and controlled by a single corporation. In such cases, the project's marketing plan is, in fact, a component of the company's plan; it's the company's control of the project which allows its marketing objectives to drive what the project does.
In the absence of that sort of control, it's not clear what a free software project's marketing team can achieve. Certainly a marketing group can point out areas of opportunity in the hope that developers will choose to pursue those opportunities. Such pointing-out must be done carefully, though; free software hackers tend to be irritated by those who seem to be trying to tell them what to do. Marketing teams can also fulfill a useful sales role by, for example, organizing booths at trade shows, distributing live CDs, convincing distributors to package the software, etc.
But it's not the marketing group which will bring about a project's success; that depends on the code, artwork, music, documentation, support, etc. provided by the project's members. A project is made by its community, not by a marketing plan. It's hard to imagine wanting that to change.
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