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Be flexible to win big

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KDE

Before KDE, I came from the Apple world, which takes a different approach. Apple identifies distinct use cases and focuses their efforts like a laser on making them as polished as possible. This works very well, but it requires ignoring, abandoning, or explicitly blocking other use cases, and sometimes inventing new things that conflict with what others are doing, in the hope that their new thing takes over. It requires saying “no” a lot and being opinionated.

Apple’s opinionated approach worked well for me with my own personal use cases in my pre-KDE days, as it did for many millions of other people. But evidently it doesn’t work for everyone, as Apple’s products routinely fail to crack 15% market share. And when they do, they often fall back down to that level after competitors emerge. But that’s okay, because Apple isn’t going for the mass market anyway; they’re happy in their profitable and opinionated boutique niche.

But that’s not KDE, and it never has been; we’ve always dreamed of a broad scope and being useful for everyone. This is what’s behind Plasma desktop’s extreme flexibility; Plasma Mobile for phones; Plasma Bigscreen for TVs; and Plasma Nano for embedded devices. It’s why the Steam Deck handheld gaming console, PinePhone smartphone, and JingPad A1 tablet are built on top of KDE technology.

To be the market leader, you must be flexible enough to accommodate everyone’s weird and random use cases. This includes grandmas, gamers, businesspeople, students, teachers, phones, tablets, shared family PCs, kiosks, and everything in between. It means you have to give up a certain amount of that laser-focus on making a particular use case bulletproof, in favor of flexibly accommodating everyone and working with partners to support their needs so that they can build their products on top of your platform. Windows and Android do this, and so does KDE.

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KDE developer thinks they will become the 'Windows or Android'

  • KDE developer thinks they will become the 'Windows or Android' of the FOSS world

    KDE developer Nate Graham, who is known for writing the 'This week in KDE" blog posts keeping us up to speed on all the latest changes has a fresh update about plans for taking over the world, and Graham has some interesting things to say.

    There's certainly no shortage of desktop environments on Linux and a number of ways to build software, each with their own goal and way of doing things. It's both a strength for choice and a reported weakness with so much. It's always interesting to read the point of view from developers whose work we rely on so much in the FOSS community. Especially when Graham came from a background in working with Apple, while now a KDE developer.

    Here, it wasn't quite what I expected to read. The post goes over talking about the market leaders like Windows and Android, noting neither was the first to come to market but they've successfully captured the biggest slices. Noting that "Neither is picky about what kind of software you run on them or write for them, so they are used on a wide range of devices by lots of different people. Both work with others in adjacent industries, rather than taking a 'my way or the highway' approach. They are flexible."

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