Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Will Software be free?

I had the opportunity to participate in an industry roundtable at JavaOne. An interesting article has recently been published, summarizing the conversation. You can read the entire article here. In this article, I was quoted as having said:

"But Shelton countered that the reality is that "people are downloading free things from developers' sites, not from open-source vendors." In fact, he predicted that "software will be free" in five to 10 years."

It is a problem to summarize a conversation -- you always end up simplifying the points that people have made.

The funny thing is -- my prediction as stated has already come true -- there is software that is free today. But my real point was that the software that costs money today will be free in five to ten years. Free can happen in lots of different ways -- open source, bundling, or through making the software so trivial to develop that anyone can build their own.

The challenge for software companies to remain relevant is to constantly innovate on top of the layer that is becoming free.

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