Having an Open Protocol Wouldn't Matter
No offense, but there are over a hundred
million users of ICQ, and probably just as many
AIM users, and a growing MSN user base.
If I were to develop anything, it would be an
implementation of the ICQ protocol. Every single
person I know who uses a computer uses ICQ;
and they have no clue what Linux, GPL, or even
what a "protocol" is. It wouldn't be easy to get
those people to switch to an open system, and
without the huge userbase, the open system
wouldn't do much good.
No amount of advertising will get anyone close
to the number of users that ICQ's brand name
has gotten it, and AOL/MSN's members have
brought their IM services.
It is only logical, unless you wish to talk only to
geeks, to develop open implementations of these
closed protocols. We already have IRC -- look how
long IT'S been around, and how many normal
people use it.