Richard Bucker

advert-ware reinvented - no free lunch

Posted at — Jun 13, 2012

It used to be that when you bought your new PC (specially from IBM) or Mac that you received the hardware and the base operating system. Nothing more.Then some slick marketing guys realized that they could subsidize cheap hardware by installing would-be free-ware or later adware and then it got so bad (Packard Bell and eMachine) that they were installing 100s of apps leaving little room or overhead for your own apps. Many of the apps could not be removed. And when you did a fresh install of white label MS Windows there was always some driver that was missing.In recent years a very similar thing has been happening in the browser market.  Many of the browsers manufacturers get paid for directing your search queries to one search engine or another. The fact that some browsers give you a choice of search engines is not FREE. They are getting paid by all of them or there would be no incentive. (I have yet to see duckduckgo installed on Chrome)A few months ago I was impressed that twitter was integrated into my iPhone. At first I thought it was a cool idea, however, now that Facebook integration was announced with iOS6 I’m pissed.  How long before all the sponsor-ware consumes enough resources that I cannot save that last family picture or favorite song? It’s no wonder that Apple is moving everything to iCloud. They want all of the local storage for this new model.We must wake up! There is no free lunch. Everything that you think you are getting for free, specially on the web… has a price. It may not be immediately obvious to you but it’s there; you’re just not looking hard enough.For example:(1) browsers - already discussed.(2) anything GPL - strictly encumbered with viral like requirements(3) Facebook - you are constantly advertised too and your social network is worth more than gold(4) AIM - AOL has targeted AIM’s end of life but it’s intent was for marketshare and retention of their existing user base.(5) GitHub or BitBucket - no secret there. These are businesses. At some point they should be making money with their paid subscriptions but the freebees are techno-crack.(6) XCode - If Apple did not offer a free toolset then someone would likely underprice them (recall Borland and the Turbo brand of compilers). Offering the free toolset lets them control the API. Microsoft lost this battle but is still trying to win the war. Now they are offering an express version of their development environment.**Feel free to suggest a would-be “free” app and I’ll try to locate the cost.