What is OpenVote all about?
OpenVote has historically been the first software product developed by Virtual Trip and still is the most advanced from a technology point of view. It is a remote secure internet voting system with features of absolute vote privacy combined with universal verifiability of the results, a mix which probably remains unique, 10+ years after its development.
However, the OpenVote sales volume remains equal to zero all these years and is very likely to remain so for the years to come, unless a very radical usage scenario comes out.
The OpenVote technology is based on PVSS algorithms and provides these nice features, which actually made it a cutting-edge technology product in 2001, when it was launched. In 2005 OpenVote was presented at the 3rd International Conference on Trust Management, which took place in INRIA, Paris, France from May 23rd to May 26th. Moreover, the demo paper was published in the conference proceedings by Springer: ISBN 978-3-540-26042-4.
Why has OpenVote been a commercial failure?
It is rather simple: If an 'election' is very important, the 'vote selling' problem, which is structural to any kind of remote voting - electronic or not, is too important to compromise. Moreover, even if this compromise is accepted, the overhead required for secure voting, like issuing digital certificates for voters, was quite high and making the system not attractive both from an economic and a usability point of view.
In 2001 we proposed a 'Faculty Evaluation System' to the University of Crete, based on OpenVote, which was unfortunately rejected. IMHO, that remains the only possibility for the system to be used.
Key lesson learnt
There exists a fundamental marketing rule: A company (a product, a service, etc) exists just because a Customer exists. OpenVote had no customers. We developed this product starting from a research outcome, not from a market need. Such a strategy can be disastrous commercially, as it was in the OpenVote case.
Virtual Trip will publish OpenVote as free and open source software by the end of 2011.