Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: Brian Bartholomew <>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 16:05:15 -0400

     Ben> indeed the developer *benefits* from a certain level of bugs
     Ben> - it gives consumers reasons to upgrade!

> Urban legend, IMO.  Optimizing the level of bugs is going to be
> expensive; I can't imagine it would be done.  "Planned obsolescence"
> has been around for a long time.  There are few documented cases.  If
> consumers get the idea this is taking place, they get very angry (as
> they do when locked in).  Unless the consumer is also locked in, this
> is not very conducive to the health of your future income statement.
> Most economists tend to interpret what looks like "planned
> obsolescence" as "developer incompetence."  It's much better to get
> the customer locked in to features that work, rather than give them
> excuses to switch.  I don't say planned obsolescence doesn't happen,
> but without quantitative evidence I would think it's unusual in any
> industry.

What would you accept as quantitative evidence of planned obsolescence
in the software industry?
> Quantitative studies of the automobile industry and the consumer
> electronics industry suggested that in those industries what was called
> "planned obsolescence" by consumer advocates was due to "preference
> for variety" (make that "sucked in by fads" if you like) in part, and
> to long lags between developing the "state of the art" and when it
> made it to market.

I count "preference for variety" as "planned obsolescence" when it and
"customer ignorance" are cultivated by the vendor.  Don't you?

A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF)
Brian Bartholomew - - - Working Version, Cambridge, MA