Subject: Re: [coallesced replies] Re: how to create 21,780 new free software jobs (2,530 in R&D)
From: "Brian J. Fox" <>
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2002 07:09:29 -0800

   Date: Sat, 9 Nov 2002 18:35:32 -0800
   From: Nick Jennings <>

   On Sat, Nov 09, 2002 at 05:28:40PM -0800, Brian J. Fox wrote:
   >    Date: Sat, 9 Nov 2002 10:45:39 -0800 (PST)
   >    From: Tom Lord <>
   >    Absolutely: control over the harware platform is critical.  Computers
   >    need to be more like phones: cheap and swappable and relentlessly
   >    standardized in this area.  Is it a rental model we want?  A shelf of
   >    endorsed hw at CompUSA?  a page at Dell's web site?
   > Of course, this model was in fact the rage of 1999.  Network
   > "appliances" which were cheap or free, but were service-locked to an
   > ISP, and could have their software updated at any time by that service
   > provider.
   > It failed, mostly because people didn't want to be service-locked.

    What about if the service in question was not "locked" in the way that
    some services can be switched to others providing the same service?

Sure.  But where does the control over the hardware platform come
from?  Who "owns" that part of the puzzle?

Or, are you AT&T of days gone by, where one only rented the equipment.
Or for that matter, modern cable television companies?

One problem that I am seeing here is the relationship between standard
content and the user freedom to choose what software they want to
run.  If the thing that is being sold isn't pure software service,
there is a chance for it to succeed, as in the example of TiVO.  But
the moment that you ask users to switch paradugms, you will be running
into problems.

Another problem (and much more important) is the value proposition to
your customer.  If you try to sell someone a system that doesn't
break, there's no "pop" for them in that acquisistion.  They don't
percieve the value of what is being received.  When the computer is
working, that's as it should be.  If they manage to break something by
installing third party software, then it's broken, and what value did
*you* provide?  You didn't stop that from happening, did you?

    For instance, if this service was standardized and well-documented for
    the possibility of others to implement, people could switch service
    as they switch ISP's these days.

The lock to an ISP is your e-mail address (for most people, not
necessarily for the people on this list).  If you switch providers,
then you have to tell everyone about your new e-mail address, and that
sucks.  So people tend to not switch once they have some time invested
in a particular ISP.

Or look at a cell phone carrier.  Standardized hardware, service lock
(by contract and phone number), QOS claims (Can you hear me now?

    Also, the functionality of the system can still be usefull even if the
    service is disconnect (or otherwise not available), due to the local
    caching filesystem.

Sure, the technical problem is a "no brainer" (modulo implementation!)
-- but the social and business problems seem huge to me.

Why do I point this out?  Because the energy spent working around the
huge social and business problems would be better spent on a system
with a much higher return.

More people use Apache than Word, and it does them more good.
  Kragen Sitaker, Mon, 04 Nov 2002 21:32:18 -0800