Subject: Re: Reasons why being proprietary hurts you more than it helps
From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wizard.newengland.verio.net>
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 11:58:59 -0500

> Given that that's the target of this position paper, then I guess
> I've convinced you!  :)

Yes, you have.  However I think it would be good to add the list of
conditions under which this analysis is valid.  I.e. something like:

	Vendor is charging a negligible price for current proprietary
	drivers.  Must not have a software license revenue stream to
	lose.  Or if there is a revenue stream, it will be replaced by
	profits from increased harware sales.

	Vendor intends to support itself from sales of proprietary
	"hardware" only, not "software".  The difference between
	"hardware" and "software" is that hardware is much cheaper to
	copy.  A company may be selling a "hardware" card to recognize
	speech, even though most of the value added is in the software
	that runs on the board, not the relatively mundane dedicated
	singleboard.

	Sunk costs to develop current drivers must be less than
	anticipated increased hardware sales:

		More likely to be true when driver is only a bus-level
		data transfer interface between vendor's hardware and
		other software on system, and doesn't contain complex
		additional functionality.

		More likely to be true when target system for hardware
		is open and cheap to interface to.  If vendor had to
		pay Microsoft a huge royalty to learn the OS interface
		facts to write the drivers, it is less likely to make
		profit-seeking sense to give the drivers away.  It
		probably isn't a realistic sales situation to sell the
		boards without drivers, and expect the users to
		individually negotiate and pay for proprietary OS
		interface facts, then write a libre driver from scratch.


A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF) http://lpf.ai.mit.edu
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Brian Bartholomew - bb@wv.com - www.wv.com - Working Version, Cambridge, MA