It is impossible to understand the value of Plone the product without having a sense of Plone the community.
Personally, I believe that Plone has one of the strongest communities in the open source world. My first evening at the Plone Conference has done nothing to dissuade me from that point of view, and I had some really interesting conversations with several people about their ideas for Plone.For instance, I had a fantastic conversation with one Plone luminary about the need to make Plone easier to work with for low-end implementations.
His point of view is that whereas the Plone developers have spent a tremendous amount of effort to build an outstanding technical framework, they haven't done as much to help those new to Plone get immediately productive.
He feels that Plone is the best open source Web CMS for the mid-tier market, but that products like Drupal and Joomla, which really can't compete in the mid-tier, have made huge inroads for simple sites.
This lead in the low end of the market is largely because they are very easy to install and use for simple things -- which is, frankly speaking, all most people really need.
There is no reason Plone can't compete very well at the low-end. The underlying technology is superior. It merely requires some interface wizards to make it easier to set up and do basic customizations. Basically, what would Apple do?
Ultimately, he feels, making Plone easier to get started with will bring a lot more programmers into the fold (think about the explosive growth of Ruby on Rails). The best of those will fall in love with the power of the product, and will become the next wave of core contributors and community members.
Makes sense to me!