What does it take for this dream to come true? Here is a set of ingredients I've been thinking about over the last year or so, but I've also seen mentioned in other posts including Deepak's blog (Deepak, I swear I thought and emailed about these before reading your great post!).
To live another 10 great years, Delphi needs to open up to new platforms. Those planned recently (64bit, Avalon, PocketPC and similar devices) are certainly intriguing, but the new MacIntel, the Firefox browser platform, the Linux server and client platforms, the web services and integration platform are all ideas that come to mind now. But R&D should keep an eye on what's happening around and be able to adapt Delphi to changing scenarios faster than in the past.
The most relevant platform, overall, is right now the web platform. There should be a Delphi web strategy. Following Microsoft along ASP.NET is not the answer. Just by assembling WebBroker (multiserver, multi-OS), the Delphi AJAX-precursor (Internet Express), a flexible scripting model based on XML and XSLT, with a decent sitemap technology, you can have a solution that leaves Ruby on Rails far behind and ASP.NET at a distance. (BTW, I have most of these pieces working even if not together, this is not a dream, but a reality!)
A company cannot accomplish this by itself. The traditional alternative was to form alliances with other companies. The new way might be to form alliances with other communities. Delphi must live in and along the growing open source culture, instead of conflicting with it in name of a proprietary world. This doesn't need making Delphi open source. It only means making Delphi open. An open platform to plug in other languages (why not even Perl, Python, and the like?). It means following Microsoft lead in some areas is OK, but there is a lot of development taking place elsewhere (Mono, AJAX, Google and Amazon Web Services platforms, XML, Firefox, web scripting, Flash, to name just a few unrelated technologies).
And like JBuilder, I'd like a Delphi IDE able to communicate with another Delphi IDE, local or remote. I'd like to do a full code review of the project of a Norwegian company while I'm sunbathing in the Caribbean (or the opposite, you never know). Of course, we'd be chatting with the Delphi-embedded chat, use an IP-phone, and I'd receive an electronic payment. Of course, if I have a doubt I'd check a couple of newsgroups and a collection of ebooks.
More Integrated Software
Delphi has started incorporating open source contributions from the community, and this is great. But more can be done along this side. I'd like to see the Context Editor bound to Delphi. I'd like to see Beyond Compare bound to Delphi. I'd like to the most widely distributed Delphi application, Skype, bound to Delphi.
Integrating StarTeam in Delphi is great (as long as ALM-Borland doesn't ask for a lot of money for this: if not they'll be able to sell a Delphi plug-in, as they sell one for Visual Studio). But I want Delphi to have out of the box the best integration for open source version control systems, like CVS and subversion! I'd like to see CodeCentral turn into a subversion system with projects easy to download from the IDE and be able to get right away any of the Delphi open source projects on sourceforge (and there is a huge number!).
More Alternatives, Smaller Core IDE
As another example, turning Delphi into an MDA solution looks a little too ALM-ish and too little programmer-oriented to me. I'd like to see at least the same effort towards a platform independent and database access independent solution (but I have too many friends working on Instant Objects not be be biased, here)
As third example, I really like having Together in the product to build great digrams out of my working code, but if this means an unstable product taking twice as much memory, I could as well go back to manual drawings... but I'm probably digressing.
More Subscription Levels
Delphi is still sold on shelves through distributors. Sorry. It is year 2006. Sell it online. Move to a subscription-based model. Add value to the subscription by leveraging the community: level 1 subscription gives you the basic tool and the free newsgroups and web site, level 2 gives you ebooks, video training, gurus newsgroup and the like, level 3 gives you a personal trainer skyping with you and coming to your company every now and then. And, why not, level 4 will give a company wide license to Delphi up to 50 seats at the price of 25, with extra components and consultants (and a kitchen sink, courtesy of Corbin Dunn).
On this topic I liked and agreed on most of the points of this newsgroup post by davout (who are you?) davout http://email@example.com.
More Flexible Distribution
Create an integrated distribution of plug-ins and a common sale model. The plug in distribution could be like Firefox's. It is really great. Level 1 subscribers could have free plug-ins. Level 2 and 3 subscribers can have a few paid components to pick in their deal. Everyone could buy more components and tools, including training and consulting time, through the DelphiNewCo. Components vendors and consultants could still do direct sale, but they should find this integrated approach gives them an extra value.
More, New Marketing
Delphi marketing should leverage the thousads of applications written with it. Should leverage its community. Even sales could be pushed that way (sell ten subscriptions and your is free). The slogan could be "a case study a day...". Some best selling and highly regarded applications around the world are written in Delphi. That is the best marketing you can have: buy a page in a tech magazine and print the names of all those apps!
Let the community prosper, not (only) with more resources but with increased involvement. The key element, I guess, is that even if the community hasn't got the financial means to own the DelphiNewCo, it should feel the company on its side and be willing to get involved. Borland has had a loyal community, but it often felt betrayed. The DelphiNewCo could get a dramatic boost if the community feels this is a company worth its trust, feels this is its company, the company devoted full time and with all of its effort to make Delphi the best development tool, for at least another ten years!
“Our” Company, "Our" CEO
And before I forget... I agree that David I would be a great CEO for the DelphiNewCo and that they should stay in Scotts Valley. We'll miss the Borland name for sure, the DelphiNewCo will have lots of barbarians ready for the fight. Long live Delphi.