My enemies are the purveyors of non-free software who try to lock the world into doing things their way and paying for each iteration. M$ is chief among them but many of their “partners” are cut from the same cloth. Apple does charge less for software but it’s still lock-in one way or another. That lock-in and emphasis on keeping the cost of IT high is a terrible waste of resources especially when the enemy is restricting what I can do with hardware that I own.
My enemies are your enemies if you value the good things in IT: finding, creating, modifying, storing and presenting information quickly and at minimum cost.
Here is what the enemy is up to:
- M$ plans to provide the same user experience on smart thingies as the desktop/notebook PC with skype and cloud lock-in.
- Apple plans to provide the same user experience on smart thingies as the desktop/notebook with cloud lock-in.
I take my enemies at their word. It’s consistent with what we know from other sources and they both have huge networks of partners who depend on things being the way they are.
The FLOSS community is way ahead with major distros like Debian GNU/Linux having been available for smart thingies and stupid thingies for years. Android/Linux now seems to have the inside track on merging experiences with desktop and smart thingy but GNU/Linux is there as well. A lot of the cloud already runs GNU/Linux. So do virtual servers.
So, while FLOSS grows like Topsy, our enemies are playing catch-up but tripping over themselves and their bloat and inefficiency in the process. All the things they have ever done to lock-in end users to their way of doing things on the desktop now get in the way of merging small mobile systems and the larger desktops. While they try to convince themselves and consumers that the world should change, FLOSS will take over the world.
M$, in particular, is in trouble with XP clinging to life and preventing “7” from taking hold while “8” is still vapour-ware and crippled. Apple is in trouble with its share of desktops around 5% and growing at half the rate of Linux while Android/Linux now dominates smart phones and is doing well on tablets.
I expect Apple will try to get OEMs to produce non-Apple PCs with OS X to try to catch up and I expect M$ will crash and burn with “8” only selling on a few disastrous trial runs by OEMs. GNU/Linux will pick up the pieces as the Wintel monopoly crashes and burns. Attempts by Ubuntu/Linux to take over the world will fail as other distros are much more flexible. The old guard of IT relies on inflexibility and that is their downfall. You cannot prevent the world from using its hardware any way it likes if you want to survive in the long run. Wintel will learn that and evolve as will Apple but monopoly will be gone from IT. Everything will become a commodity, both hardware and software. “Platforms” will disappear from consumers’ and businesses’ viewpoints. Service/performance will be king.
The often-heard argument that Apple is a hardware company may miss the fact that last year, Apple produced more smart thingies than all the Macs every produced and the world produced more smart thingies than Apple… This means Apple is rapidly losing share even in its most successful year ever. Similarly, now that smart thingies are bought, used and seen as personal computers by the world, M$ is losing share even in its most successful year ever. M$’s client division actually shrank in units shipped during the Christmas season. Whether selling hardware or software for money is the business plan, monopoly is in big trouble.
End-users want to access their apps anywhere, anyway, at any time. That plays into web applications and thin clients which are not demanding of the client hardware. This eliminates hardware lock-in and walled gardens as frameworks for business in IT. Applications that are accessible on one platform will be accessible on all or they will die. That will cripple lock-in by M$ on software and by Apple on hardware. While the enemies are figuring all this out FLOSS will thrive even more than it does today because FLOSS has known this for decades and is able to deliver the goods now, when people want them.
Linus has the last word on Linux kernel development:
“as long as I want to get my kids through college and not live under a bridge, I will keep doing kernel work.” That attitude spells the death of monopoly. FLOSS just will not die and keeps growing. The world needs software and can make its own. No monopoly can do what the world can do. No monopoly is desirable or affordable. As much as IT has grown since infancy, it has many times more growth ahead and monopoly will only slow it down.