Ping Li, who serves on the Board of Directors at BitTorrent and several other technology companies, says in this video that the real value of Open Source is the distribution network for the final software that is created. He argues that most of the work is done by the creator or a small number of people but lot more people take an active part in the creation process and hence are easily persuaded to accept that software. (My paraphrasing)
This seems right to me though I have not really taken an active interest in following the productivity of various contributors in different open source programmes. And the implication of this is good one for closed-source software businesses like Microsoft and Apple. The distribution model of these Open Source products is restricted to technically literate section of the society. It is much more difficult to make a 40-year old HR executive excited to use a Linux flavor when he can get a much simpler MS Windows or Apple OS.
Just a thought that stuck me.