The millions being offered by Oracle (and others) for open source database vendors could have an unintended side-effect, pushing open source innovation overseas.
Let's face facts. Oracle isn't buying outfits like Sleepycat and InnoDB to improve the open source world. It's absorbing those companies into an ecosystem dominated by its proprietary software. The same is true for Microsoft, for SAP, for any proprietary vendor which adopts asset purchases as its "open source strategy."
But in the end it doesn't work. It doesn't work because you don't get the code. The projects can be forked. What you buy is expertise, support, bodies, and contracts. All good, but what then happens to the open source movement?
A vacuum is left that other countries can jump into. Leadership in open source moves to wherever innovation, support, and expertise lie. Buy up all that lies in the U.S. or Western Europe and you guarantee that leadership will move, to Brazil, to India, to China.
A few years ago I would not have believed that America could lose its leadership in Internet broadband. But through a combination of short-sighted government policies, we did just that. Are we about to lose leadership in open source application development due to short-sighted corporate policies?