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ZDNet: Going Overboard on Open Source?

Aug 27, 2002, 11:30 (45 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Carroll)

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"No other market is quite like software. General Motors isn't forced to contend with a "free car" movement, which has a goal of undermining sales-based automakers. Dell isn't faced with a grass roots PC hardware movement, which says PCs should be free--and then hands out samples at no cost.

"Of course, software is unique as its production relies purely on the mind. Even if a renegade group wanted to offer free cars, it would not be feasible as long as raw materials carry a cost. In software, all it takes to challenge established proprietary software vendors is to convince enough developers to donate their time, or more specifically, their brainpower.

"Free software, however, is only a problem if you sell software. Free certainly won't cause complaints from consumers. Although free might lead to fewer competitors, as there will be less profits to go around. Hardware vendors can charge less for their products, boosting sales and revenue (they'll never have a free challenger). Retailers such as Wal-Mart can benefit if consumers flock to products made cheaper through the use of open source software..."

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