Ok, so lets be upfront, I am a FC Barcelona supporter since I can remember. I guess the strange thing is that I am the only one of my family the follows footie.
Anyhow, today I am not going to gloat on the achievements of the last season, but I would like to compare Mardrid and Barcelona’s approach to building their teams. They are without a doubt 2 of the biggest teams in Europe, with 2 very different approaches to developing a successful business .
Real Madrid, as it is clear from the summer transfers market, concentrates in buying players that will bring big publicity contracts with them and with a proven sporting achievement record on their backs. This comes at a high price, 96 millon euros in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo and 65 for Kaka. Real Madrid uses this tactic to fill in key positions on the team backbone, the players bought are expected to deliver the clubs sporting objectives, and beyond Raul and Casillas not many youth team players achieve the “galactico” label.
A clear advantage is that this approach provides (if successful) a quick return on investment. This can be used to influence the decisions taken by the board of members as Real Madrid and Barcelona still sporting clubs (not privately own companies), and secure re-election to a successful president. This worked well for Florentino Perez last time, when he was in charge of the Real Madrid of Zidane.
In the other hand, FC Barcelona has a longer term investment plan that focuses on the development of star players through their youth team. This strategy is complemented with a minimal acquisition of top players to cover gaps on the team (traditionally strikers) and to strengthen the bench. However, the key players upon which Barcelona relies to deliver results are mainly “home grown”. This has clearly higher yield than Madrid’s investment approach.
So, why talk about this in an Open Source Blog? My observation is that the Symbian Foundation follows a very similar development plan to Barcelona’s. The building and support of an open source community that can contribute to all levels of the platform, is our “youth team”. Our members had the ability to license closed platform solutions, but they choose to invest in the Symbian Platform as better strategic option. This gives them (like FC Barcelona) the opportunity of being the best with a sustainable business model and direct influence over the future of the platform.
We also have to ask ourselves if players like Leo Messi are so good because they have grown playing with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc at the “Masia”. If talent generates talent, an open source community is an exceptional breeding ground for innovation. Barcelona claims to be more than a football club (“mes que un club”), so the Symbian Foundation aspires to be more than a software organisation and it makes a key priority to engage with the heart of our members.
Therefore, if my argument is that the Symbian Foundation and FC Barcelona have an akin philosophy, I leave to you to decide who is the Real Madrid of the smartphone market.