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Why RedHat Should Buy Trolltech

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This is surely going to be a controversial topic, but as the title of this blog makes obvious, I think RedHat executives should seriously consider buying Trolltech. This conclusion was inspired by a number of recent articles and events. First, we have Larry McVoy of BitKeeper fame knocking the Open Source world for not being innovative enough… Red Hat in particular.

The article and Larry go on to say many things which are either exaggerations or simply false, but I think McVoy does have a point worth considering. The pure services model does have a fatal flaw in that it doesn’t seem capable of disruptive innovation. Ask yourself, isn’t McVoy right? Try as you might, can you think of a single disruptive innovation coming out of RedHat? Ever?

The second article that pointed my thinking towards Red Hat buying Trolltech was from IT Week. The company said that sales of the NetWare suite of products are declining at a faster rate than expected, and that sales of Linux products were disappointing. While Novell makes the transition from a networking business to a Linux services company, it is relying heavily on its installed base of NetWare users to subsidise the investments in open source software.

Novell proving McVoy right too? Say it ain’t so! This article released on the same day seems to be backing up McVoy’s point, doesn’t it? One could argue that this is a temporary hole for Novell, but with the recent resignations you have to believe the executives are experiencing serious heartburn after their investments in Ximian (providing zero to no new revenue) and SuSE (which doesn’t seem capable of sustaining Novell’s former proprietary revenues).

So, why do I conclude from all of this that RedHat should buy Trolltech? Simple. Trolltech is a fully Open Source company that is _thriving_ on a dual licensing business model. McVoy is _wrong_ to assert that, “…none of them can show me how to build a software-development house and fund it off open source revenue. My claim is it can’t be done.” Trolltech is showing him, just that exactly. It _can_ be done!

Whatever the case, Trolltech and the Qt/KDE platforms have shown the flaw in McVoy’s reasoning. Dual licensing is a viable and proven Open Source business model that can produce disruptive innovation. Bitkeeper should look into it.

Full Blog with discussion.

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