Commercial Intent

A point I have made often in my blog over the past year and a half is about the commercial implications of "open" solutions. The fact is, the big money and human resources being applied to projects such as the ODF specification process and/or large OSS dev projects such as Linux are being done for commercial gain. Fine, great - more competition is good. I love the idea that our product teams need to crank out better products if we are to remain successful. Let's focus though on the real drivers behind all of the "openness" rhetoric. Commercial intent is not dirty or unsavory - it is in fact good for all of us who think that earning a living working on software is a good thing.

http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2006/05/16/lotus_notes_gets_upgrade/

Do you suppose that because IBM has been so strongly advocating that governments avoid the evils of closed APIs and trade secrets (truly pernicious things), that they are going to open source all of the Lotus technology? Or is it open enough because of the XML-based format? Might it be that commercial interests (IBM earns >$15B in revenue from software = >35% of their profits) would suggest that open is good some of the time, but closed might be reasonable too provided you continue to deliver value?

*****Updated May 16 - 3:30pm (PST)*****

A second article poped up today that is instructive in this same vein of thought. Louis Saurez-Potts from CollabNet makes it very clear that this is about product competition. He would like to see OpenOffice succeed and is concerned that the dev projects to create technical interoperability between ODF and Office will extend the life of Office. I'm of the opinion that the value built into the features and functions of the Office products will extend the life of the product more than any possible effect of the file formats.

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=111280&source=rss_news50