Time for an Eclipse Corp?

I’m not sure why, but Mozilla has been floating around my world a lot in the last few days. First was Ian’s conjecture that Eclipse should sometimes be more like Mozilla. That led me to take a look at what the fuss was about where it finally hit me what Mozilla.com was. It’s actually a real company that funds development of Firefox with revenue generated by Firefox’s search engine integrations. Apparently they get a ton of money, well $50M+ annually, to spend that way.

Now today, I read that Mozilla is going to try out that formula with Thunderbird. Firefox was probably the right thing at the right time. I’m not sure Thurderbird is, although I’m thinking of tossing Yahoo’s slow mail, I mean web mail, interface and switching to T-bird for my home mail. Although, I still love Outlook (especially after a couple years of not using Outlook 😉 for my work e-mail. But the idea of funding Thunderbird development to improve it’s chances in the market is an intriguing idea.

This is something I’ve been thinking about in the last couple of years that would be good for Eclipse. The Platform versus IDE wars flame up once in a while and the underpinnings of the Eclipse Foundation and the way most Eclipse projects gets staffed really does force the Open Source version of Eclipse to be a platform, and not necessarily the technically best IDE in the market. And, although we don’t run up to them much in the C/C++ space, Netbeans is apparently jumping by leaps and bounds and is starting to be recognized as the more user friendly IDE.

So I wonder out loud. Could a not-for-profit Eclipse Corp. fund an independent collection of developers that could focus on making Eclipse both a great IDE and a great Platform while still providing value for the Board members who would most likely need to fund this venture, at least at the beginning? What would the scope of this corporation be? It couldn’t fund every Eclipse project since not all Board members get value out of all of the projects. But there may be a logical place to start and grow as more funding became available. Or would this create a poisonous community of have’s and have not’s. Interesting to wonder about anyway…