Will all software really be free?
|While taking a short break on the island of Kauai, I've reflected a bit on my experience within the software sector, and reached a dozen conclusions. At risk of stating the obvious to some, and positing absurdities to others, here they are:|
The above trends stray from the original vision of Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Movement. Beginning in the late 1970's, he observed that software code was a work of creative expression, and that intellectual property laws hindered the ability of software authors to advance their art, to the ultimate detriment of society. Stallman thus forcefully argued that software should be free, as in 'liberty', so that software authors could learn from each other.
Now, software is free as in 'beer', and much like works of creative authorship under the old media, it attracts audiences of value to advertisers. So, while the few may continue to advance free software in the name of liberty, the many will advance free software in the name of marketing.
The above leaves me with a few questions to ponder in the months and years ahead.
1. Will software follow older 'narrative' publishing industries in the sense that fee-supported works should be of generally higher quality than ad-supported equivalents?
2. Will new portals, or a new generation of software 'publishers', emerge that address the interests and needs of niche audiences? Or will a few existing portals dominant the entire sector for years to come?
3. What categories of software will be best supported by the different business model options?
Well, the sun is starting to emerge from the rain clouds here on the north shore of Kauai. It's time to return to the beach.