What's Up with NetBeans?

We’ve been running a technology futures market with Yahoo! Research for the past year. Participants try to predict the “buzz” around technology in a fantasy stock market. The results are measured against the actual search volume on Yahoo! And that’s what’s most interesting to us at O’Reilly, as we’re trying to find data sources that give us some “hard numbers” about the technology trends that we are exploring.

I was just browsing the buzz game, and discovered something that surprised me. While the futures market still has its money on Eclipse, in the past year Netbeans has passed Eclipse in actual Yahoo! search volume.


Here’s a brief explanation of how to read the graph. It has three sections. The top section trends the stock price in the fantasy stock market. (The reason the top graph here starts mid-year is that that’s when we added this market to the game, so there is no data for the earlier part of the year.) The middle section shows spikes in the trading volume. And the bottom section of the graph is where the meat is. It shows the relative Yahoo! sales volume for the various technologies in the market group. As you can see, with an Eclipse stock price of 14.26 to NetBeans 11.26, Emacs at 10.08, and JBuilder at 8.56, the game players are still valuing Eclipse most highly. But with approximately 30% of the search volume to Eclipse’s 25% or so, NetBeans (the orange line, which passed Eclipse, the blue line, back in the fall) is apparently the search volume winner. (Also, isn’t it great to see how many people still use Emacs as an IDE!)

I don’t really follow the IDE wars, but this result surprised me, so I thought I’d ask my readers if you have any ideas about this result. It could be an artifact of the Yahoo! user base, for example, with very different results if we were able to run the same exercise against Google search volume. And search volume doesn’t necessarily indicate usage. So I’m not sure I’d take it as the final word on the popularity of the two IDEs. However, the change is interesting. What has NetBeans been doing lately to drive up its buzz?

Some other interesting graphs to take a look at (keeping in mind that the real meat is in the bottom third of the graph, vs. game player sentiment in the top third): While participants value Open Office very close to Microsoft Office, Open Office only has about 1/4 the search volume of Microsoft Office; Solaris and Red Hat Linux are neck and neck in search volume, and (no surprise in this one) MySQL still dominates the open source database market. (Good news for us, since the MySQL Conference, which we put on jointly with MySQL AB, is coming up.