Subject: Economics of software distribution
From: nick@NSIS.CL.NEC.CO.JP (Gavin Thomas Nicol)
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 93 10:17:36 JST

Actually, I think the main reasons are pretty much as you say, though
the startup costs must also play a part.

However, I feel that slowly, but surely, the mass-market will be
catered to. Look at Linux and 386bsd. They are already being sold on
CDROM. Sooner or later, someone will make a complete version,
shrink-wrapped, with manuals, and I suspect that of the price is
right, and they do their marketing well, they will make money.

The same goes for applications. Most FSB's now cater to niche markets,
because it is much easier for them to cater to the whims of a few,
than to the whims of thousands, and because the cost to enter
such a market is (relatively) not so large. Sooner or later though,
someone *will* make applications with mass-market appeal (I know,
because I have plans to do exactly that), and rather than make money
from the software per-se, they will make it from selling manuals, or
teaching people how to use it (in-company training courses such as
those for Excel). 

Sooner or later, it will be possible to go to a client and say:

  "OK. We have this configuration using proprietary software, and it
   costs $n, and we have here a comparable system available using free
   software for $n/x."

and the FSB's will make money from integration, packaging, printing,
and training. Or at least, I *feel* it will happen, and I dream of it.