As markets developed over the last thirty years MapInfo and ESRI have remained significant players in the gis arena. Whilst MapInfo is now part of the Pitney Bowes organisation ESRI has remained independent. Significantly ESRI has developed a range of systems to rival MapInfo software in both price and functionality.
As gis has become more popular with all sizes of organisations the cost of entry has continued to fall significantly in real terms. This has enabled many more small and medium sized organisations to invest and benefit from gis by making use of the many powerful features it provides. Modern desk top gis is enabling companies to make better commercial decisions based on the powerful and easy to use features available within both open source and proprietary solutions.
With the introduction of open source solutions such as Quantum GIS the entry level has again been lowered to the point where it is now within the reach of any organisation or individual. Open source means that now everyone is able to use gis solutions to help grow their businesses. Open source has also enabled many larger organisations to encourage greater usage of gis as the investment cost is confined to support and training. Whilst it is fair to say that gis solutions such as Quantum GIS are free to down load and install there is still a requirement to understand what the software can and cannot achieve when compared to proprietary alternatives. For many small and medium companies it may be all that is required. Even the largest organisations could use Quantum GIS to complement proprietary software in order to make better use of their gis investment.