I have been watching the controversy about the Open Document Format (ODF) that has been going on in Massachusetts. Long story short with a glazing over of details, the state CIO had some research done and decided to go with ODF as the official document format. This format was chosen because it is open and can be implemented by anyone. This is in direct contrast to closed formats which cannot be implemented by anyone unless the owning company allows it. Several other legitimate office suites can or will support ODF. Microsoft Office, which is what Mass. is currently using, does not and has no plans to support ODF. As such, they are vehemently opposed to Mass. "excluding" them this way. In an amazing coincidence, other officials suddenly speak up and oppose the switch.
I have looked at some of the reasons why the CIO decided on the switch. To me, the most important reason they have to switch to an open format such as ODF is that anyone can implement it. Which means that if one company goes out of business, a slew of other companies can provide readers/editors for the format. It also means that companies would have to compete for the state contract based on the quality of their software. Further, it means that since no one company owns the format, if documents are put in this format, then no company can "hold the documents hostage" and demand higher prices.
Here is my question regarding this. If Mass. was using an office suite from a small company that does fairly well but also may not be around in 10 years instead of the behemoth monopolist it uses right now, would this even be an issue?