IBM is creating a Bitcoin clone, but one that is controlled by a third party. This completely misses the point of Bitcoin and would simply serve to create a weaker imitation. I say this because Bitcoin is an open source technology and anyone can contribute and build upon the Bitcoin network. It is a free network that is open for innovation to take place. A closed network would simply serve those in control.
There are currently hundreds to thousands of people working on new Bitcoin services and code, that is only possible due to its open nature. A network or protocol controlled by a central authority would be less innovative due to it being a walled garden. During the early days of the internet, AOL tried to keep users on its own network and made it very hard to access external sites. This meant that users had a very limited reach to other websites and could only sample a small selection of what the internet had to offer.
This also happened with mobile phones in the early 2000’s where internet access was through the WAP protocol and you were forced to use the services of your mobile carrier. Services like these were superseded by the full blown internet as it had vastly more information and utility. As the internet was open to all, more companies and individuals were able to develop and create new content and services. This in turn made the open internet more valuable in comparison to services like AOL that had less content.
Some of these services also happened to cost more as customers had no choice or competition to chose from. The MMS protocol is a fine example of this. It was reasonably expensive to send a simple photo from your mobile phone to another when picture messaging was relatively new. Today you can send a picture message for nothing in a variety of different ways. History has always shown that you can not trust a central authority with control of a system or its content. It always leads to corruption or control over the masses in one form or another.
Bitcoin will be the long term winner as it is completely self sufficient much like the internet today and vastly more empowering over the competition or legacy systems that it will replace. Any alternative that is controlled by a central authority feels like a Bitcoin 0.5 clone that is heavily gimped and destined to fail like other antiquated and closed systems of the past.
(Photo by Michael Himbeault)