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Proprietary, Open and De Facto Standards
(Page 3 of 3)
De Facto Standards
This brings me to the third type
of standard that is often seen in the computer world: the de facto
standard. De facto is Latin for in fact, so
a de facto standard is one that is used as a universal standard just
because over time it became widely used, and not because the standard
was developed and approved by a standards committee. A good example
of a de facto standard is the AT command set used by modems;
virtually all modems use it, but this resulted not from an industry
group agreeing to adopt and deploy it. Rather, it was developed unilaterally
by Hayes, the pioneering modem company, and then adopted by virtually
every other modem maker until it became a standard.
One reason why proprietary standards
are still sometimes seen is that some companies want to produce a standard
that will become so universally used that it becomes the de facto standard,
thus giving them a leadership position in that market. Again, in my
estimation Sony falls into this categorythey often want to do
things their way and create proprietary standards that they
try to promote using their powerful market presence.
Sometimes this succeeds but often
it does not, resulting a fragmented market of incompatible products.
An excellent example is when Sony created a new format for digital camera
flash memory (the memory stick) rather than using the CompactFlash
format used by other camera manufacturers. The result of this was not
everyone using memory sticks as Sony had hoped, but two incompatible
standards that increase confusion and yield no real benefit to the customer.
Key Concept: Networking standards can be classified as proprietary, open or de facto. Proprietary standards are owned by one particular organization. If that organization has sufficient market clout and the industry lacks alternatives to its standard, it may be adopted by the whole industry, becoming a de facto standard. Usually, however, differing proprietary standards compete with each other, resulting in a fragmented market. In contrast, open standards are not owned by anyonethey are created by neutral organizations to ensure that compatible products can be designed and developed by many different companies. This makes life easier for the customer as well as promoting the market as a whole.
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The TCP/IP Guide (http://www.TCPIPGuide.com)
Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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