(proprietary) de facto standards
A new article on developerWorks, Standards and specs: Naturally occurring standards, aptly describes the nature of de facto standards, compares them to open standards, and offers advice on how to navigate when you encounter de facto standards. I especially liked these tidbits:
If you're considering getting into a field where there's a proprietary de facto standard, be aware that the vendor who controls that standard has no economic reason to make it easy for you to participate.and
Support the existing formats, but make your own open, and market pressure may give you an excellent opportunity to make inroads. You may rest assured that users are not currently thinking to themselves, "I want the next product I buy to lock me in to a proprietary format forever."
Definitely worth a read for those of us who focus on open standards.