A few hours ago, Acquia announced public release of its first two products: Acquia Drupal (the software) and Acquia Network (the services). I plan to migrate tomgeller.com to Acquia Drupal, and will (probably) post my impressions of the products themselves then.
But for now, let's consider the business side of Acquia. A few numbers:
So: Can Acquia make it?
Well, the numbers ain't bad. Assuming the company delivers on its promises, I have to say I'm optimistic for it. The site clearly defines its products, proposes realistic prices, and offers packages that encourage engagement -- including a free "Community" level for a single-server site with "forum-based" support. At first glance, it all comprises a strong value proposition.
Just as importantly, Acquia offers a migration path to rope in people like me who want to "upgrade" an existing "Drupal.org Drupal" site to Acquia Drupal. Smart! (Put simply, the migration is done by merging your existing sites directory, .htaccess file, and robots.txt file to a special Acquia Drupal package that leaves out these pieces.)
At the moment, Acquia stands alone. If Drupal continues to grow -- and particularly if it experiences breakthrough success -- it will attract other commercial suitors in areas where Acquia is now treading. But from what I can see, Acquia has gained first-mover advantage with its confident and solid entry into the market.
No, Acquia's greatest challenges won't come from competitors, but rather from two other places. First, the company could have misjudged market need -- an easy thing to do when you're defining a new market. Second, it's in that tender stage when relatively small mistakes can affect them in big ways. To act boldly under such circumstances takes courage, making the strength of its first steps all the more impressive.
So congratulations to the Acquia team! I can't wait to see what's next.