The obvious counterargument is...
If Red Hat is a "one off" because no other Free Software companies have achieved anywhere near the same level of success, and this is therefore an inherent failure of Free Software which Red Hat has miraculously managed to overcome ... then surely that means proprietary software has exactly the same inherent failure, because Microsoft has a 90% monopoly on the desktop, and no one else has ever come close to achieving the same thing.
Hmmm, I think I may have exposed a slight flaw in Matt's logic.
The reasons companies succeed or fail are many and varied. Microsoft's success was the result of decades of dirty dealings that secured a monopoly. Red Hat's success was simply because it's a competent business, and because it specifically targeted a segment of the industry not locked in to Microsoft's monopoly. In other words Red Hat chose a battle it could win. Other vendors do less well, irrespective of their licensing model, because they're either less competent or foolish enough to target Microsoft's impenetrable monopoly.
It's not exactly rocket science.
Of course, Microsoft's monopoly is now being seriously challenged via the back door. No vendor stands a chance of tackling Microsoft's desktop dominance head-on, but they may not have to, since consumers now seem to be engaged in a bit of a paradigm-shift to mobile devices and Cloud services, making the "desktop" less and less relevant, and thus Windows less relevant too, along with the proprietary licensing model it promotes.
Microsoft has demonstrated time and again that it clearly isn't ready for that paradigm-shift, that is has trouble keeping up with rapidly emerging technologies (and thus markets), and that it wields no significant power outside the desktop. Companies like Red Hat and Google ARE ready, though, and have been for years. The primary reason for this is Free Software, since it is inherently flexible enough to rapidly adapt to changing conditions, both in technical and licensing terms.
This then represents another opportunity to circumvent Microsoft's monopoly. The question is, will anyone (apart from Google) attempt to capitalise on it?
Red Hat didn't succeed BECAUSE of Free Software, it succeeded in SPITE of Microsoft's monopoly, USING Free Software. It's a subtle but important distinction. The licensing model is irrelevant when one is faced with a closed-shop market. One either supports that market, foolishly opposes it, or finds a way around it by exploiting a niche segment, then working to expand that niche.
That isn't a reflection on licensing models, it's simply a reflection on the corrupt state of the desktop market.
Paris, because she knows a good opportunity when she see one.