A name that I don't know as well as I should is Grady Booch:
chief scientist at IBM's Rational Software unit and an IBM fellow who also holds the title "free radical." His software development approach and the Unified Modeling Language, which he helped create, have been used to build the software that runs pacemakers, avionics in certain large airliners, antilock brake systems, and financial trading systems in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Here's what he has to say about the Eclipse project:
Consider where Rational was prior to Eclipse. We had to split our loyalties because there was a variety of IDEs [integrated development environments] that were interesting in the marketplace [and] none had reached critical mass. We worked with IBM to help make Eclipse happen. Now, all of a sudden, Eclipse was the de facto standard. There is no value added in Rational building an IDE.
He then draws a moral from this experience:
[Open-source] projects that have really gotten traction represent a codification of things that are commodities. The OS wars are largely over. Let's decide on a common platform. Therefore, Linux makes sense.
Open source represents an economic process where you find some applications you can't make money on, and it makes sense for us as an industry to pool our resources.
A process, moreover, that will happen to every area that is capable of commodification. That's why it's inevitable.