This is a textbook case for a business school
Posted Apr 8, 2005 2:37 UTC (Fri) by darthmdh
In reply to: This is a textbook case for a business school
Parent article: Linus on the BK withdrawal
There's a difference between developing a competing product, and producing a clone of an existing one.
The first has a future and is beneficial to society. The second is just pointless Xeroxing. What Larry was trying to prevent was the second, and he has every right to do so.
Cloning is stupid. How does the adage go; "those who do not learn from the past are doomed to reimplement it... poorly". If you're simply cloning something else you will always be at least one step behind, usually more. Take a look at all the OSS projects that attempt to imitate Microsoft Windows. They came close to getting Win95 and then Microsoft come out with the re-designed XP. They might come close to getting XP, but then Microsoft will come out with Longhorn. If you're constantly chasing someone else's coattails, you will always be behind them. Less than them. Worse than them. Also, all you achieve is to confuse and distract people, maybe divert funds from those actually creating/innovating (those being cloned) to the undeserved (the cheap knockoffs), create division and fanatical polarisation causing harm, not good.
Competition is meant to encourage innovation. Doing something new. And by something new, its not just change some keywords and remove some functionality (like Java/C# over C++). It's more like Lisp versus C (bad choice in examples, but I hope my point is clear). Solve problems that either haven't been solved before, or solve them in an unarguably better fashion, or at least different enough that there's some kind of mass appeal (functional versus procedural versus object-oriented versus ...). Raise the bar.
Notice how Microsoft never went after projects duplicating their UI efforts - because a) it shows flattery towards their UI (ie, there's good stuff there people want to copy) and b) they remain the ones out in front. But they did go after projects that did things better (such as Samba, which not only fixed bugs in the SMB protocol but ran on hardware existing in peoples networks that Windows could not run on, meaning people could stick with what they knew and loved - Microsoft's competitors (UNIX vendors) - not needing to not only purchase Windows licenses but even equipment Windows was capable of running on, dissolving future migration paths to their cruddier OS).
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