From Planning to Mature: on the Determinants of Open Source Take-Off
Open source is an example of user-centric innovation initiated by an individual or group of users to satisfy their specific needs; the more a software evolves towards a stable release able to address the requirements of its developers, the more successful the project. In this paper we use a large data-set obtained from SourceForge.net to estimate the impact of observed project characteristics on the evolution of the source code from a preliminary release to its mature version. We show that while projects distributed under highly restrictive licensing terms (GPL) have a significantly smaller probability of reaching a stable release, applications towards sophisticated users have a larger probability of evolving in the development status. Interestingly, we find that the size of the community of developers increases the chances of progress but this effect decreases as the community gets larger, a signal of possible coordination problems. Finally, we show that the determinants of the development stage of older projects differ significantly from those of newer projects, thus supporting the common perception of open source as an extremely dynamic phenomenon.
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