TMO Short Take: Open-Source Guru Says, 'When PCs Fall Below $350, Microsoft Will Die, Die, Die!'

When the price of a PC falls below $350, Microsoft will no longer be viable. The reason is that if you sell something below that price, you can’t afford to pay the Microsoft tax and still make money.
3/1/2002 ZDNet news, on-line
“Dude, Dell just made you go bankrupt!”

That ubiquitous character in Dell’s incessant TV ads may very well be known for saying such things to Bill Gates if the commoditization of the PC continues to spiral computer prices down towards the retail price of a high-end Sony Walkman.

Thus saith Eric Raymond, high priest of the Open-Source movement, in an interview with ZDNet today. Since companies like Dell can only increase profits and beat their competitors by driving down the cost of their products, Microsoft’s days are numbered, according to the ZDNet interview with Raymond:
...the best illustration of this is the handheld PC market, where Microsoft software powers relatively expensive devices, but has no presence in the lower-end market.

Prices are falling in the PC market too, however, and it isnit difficult to imagine buying a computer for about the same price as a DVD player before long, he said. Ultimately, the commoditization of PCs, and the shift to the Internet, will make Microsoftis relatively expensive software obsolete...
The article properly points out that Raymond supports and advocates free software movements like Linux, implying that his comments are those of someone who has a vested interest in the death of Microsoft. These facts are common knowledge within the computing community. In other words, take Raymond with a few grains of salt. His comments are about the same as a rabid Mac user saying that Apple will gain 50 percent market share from Microsoft. At least the Mac has the better chance in the consumer market.

Nevertheless, the interview is an interesting read, in light of Microsoft’s ongoing anti-trust concerns and the re-emergence of Apple’s Mac OS as an epiphanic, viable alternative to the Windows monopoly in the consumer market, while Linux currently holds a runner-up position in the server market.

But, as for the death of Microsoft, Raymond’s comments must be categorized under “wishful thinking” until time proves or disproves his claims.

If Raymond’s predictions ring true, however, the aforementioned Dell character may very well co-opt another catch phrase for PCs and Microsoft Windows as they move from the store-front malls to venues more appropriate to their falling price tags : “Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers.”



Further reading:Raymond -- Cheap PCs Will Doom Microsoft

Rodney O. Lain is still recuperating from his Miami trip with beer buddy “Mac Daddy.” Slapped repeatedly for soliciting Miami waitresses for $2.50 lap dances (“two fitty,” as Mac Daddy would say), Rodney lives in Minnesota, where he writes his “iBrotha” column, as well as the odd editorial and news article. He wrote and uploaded this column near the Minnesota Apple Store, gleefully “pirating” their AirPort signal.