In the same breath, though, Gates predicts that software won’t be free — though he has no good explanation for this (presumably, it’s because universal free software would be bad for his business, so he can’t bring himself to contemplate the possibility).
I saw something about this earlier today and the irony was overwhelming. This is the kind of business partner I want: “hey, I have an idea, let’s give your stuff away while I keep selling mine. Never mind that yours is actually physical stuff that costs money to make while mine is an increasingly marginalized commodity that has production costs approaching zero.”
Another innovative insight . . . .
It does seem likely that hardware, as we currently conceive of it, will drop in price, but to get to zero or damn near suggests there won’t be any new developments: here’s a few that I think we’ll see. Mr Gates’ vision of tablet devices raises a few ideas that would be required, without even thinking that hard: and he expects them to be free?
* increased portability resulting from
** better power management
** more efficient software design
** fewer moving parts/solid state storage
* ubiquitous networking
** broadband everywhere
** wireless everywhere
** robust IP addressing (IPv6?)
** compelling, useful services, that capture some revenue
When you consider how well the various free operating systems support existing consumer electronics, not just traditional computers — check out NetBSD to see what they’ve already done, to say nothing of the various hardware platforms supported by Linux — it seems likely that new hardware will be supported by free OSes almost as quickly as by proprietary ones. Right now, proprietary OSes drive hardware but that may not be the case forever.