Jean-Yves Le Gall , the president of the French national space agency CNES and former CEO of Arianespace, has written an op-ed in Le Monde in which he identifies what SpaceX has gotten right and calls upon Europe to respond in kind.
Below is a rough translation of a key portion via Google Translate:
If we compare the launcher SpaceX to its competitors, it differs in three major points. First, its perfect adaptation to launch useful governmental charges: these are the satellites from NASA and the Department of Defense who are an important part of its backlog and more of its income to the extent the government U.S. agrees to pay its own more expensive than what is charged to commercial customers launches.
Then its smaller size and ease of implementation, which lead to very low operating costs and de facto make it terribly competitive to launch commercial satellites: the last two launches of the Falcon 9 has achieved a return United States in this market, they were absent for several years, given the lack of competitiveness and availability of conventional launchers.
Finally, the technical definition and its industrial organization, from the beginning, have been designed with the aim of to minimize development costs and operating: instead of being a launcher at the forefront of technology, the Falcon 9 uses engines proven, easy to technology development and especially inexpensive to industrialize, and the launcher is made by a very limited number of subcontractors, which limits the production costs.
Le Gall says that Europe need to adapt to this changing world as it develops the Ariane 6 launch vehicle to replace the Ariane 5.