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OpenOffice Downloads Outnumber PC Sales in Italy community member and public relations professional Italo Vignoli posts “The Price of Success” on his blog, in which he reveals that is being downloaded at a faster rate than new computers are being sold in Italy.

He suspects the same is true in Germany and France, and if Vignoli is correct, than three out of the four biggest national economies in the EU (UK is the fourth) are in the midst of a massive shift toward over competing office software suites: 3.0 has been a huge success, and this has raised the awareness of the open source office suite to an unprecedented level. In Europe, where OOo was already quite popular, especially in France, Germany and Italy, download numbers have reached new records. In Italy, they are now higher than the number of new PCs sold in the country, as they probably are in France and Germany (although I don’t have PC figures for these two countries).

Because of the slippery nature of download statistics as a measure of a software program’s usage share, Vignoli and his team in Italy have developed statistical methods to eliminate false data and better estimate the true impact OOo is having there.

Downloads are a key measurement of success, although they represent a trend and can’t be compared with licenses. This means that I am extremely careful in picking numbers when they don’t follow a logical trend (i.e., an increase – not a jump – after the announcement of each new version, and then a slow decrease)… Most of the time, we ignore the numbers that we don’t trust, even if this means that we ignore several “real” downloads.

Even so, generally accepted knowledge indicates the number of OOo users exceeds the number of measured downloads, due to distribution through other methods like peer-to-peer networks, CDs, flash media (thumb or key drives), and others.

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