The last computer you'll ever own.
March 7, 2001 2:18 PM   Subscribe

The last computer you'll ever own. With the entertainment industry pushing electronics manufacturers towards closed, proprietary hardware, how soon will we be limited to strictly "renting" media, serives, etc.?
posted by harmful (10 comments total)
I normally don't care that much for Richard Stallman's rhetoric, but this sounds like yet another step towards a pretty grim future.
posted by harmful at 2:19 PM on March 7, 2001



No, but seriously folks, if the market for big name pc hardware goes this way, isn't there still going to be enough demand to support a smaller market for people who just won't stand for this kind of crap? Let the masses and corportations buy IA's with M$ crap on it, the hardcore users will still want/need something more.
I just find it hard to believe that vendors wouldn't sell real hardware to the people who are willing to pay for it.
posted by Hackworth at 2:57 PM on March 7, 2001

"No, but seriously folks, if the market for big name pc hardware goes this way, isn't there still going to be enough demand to support a smaller market for people who just won't stand for this kind of crap?"

It's impossible to predict of course, but I think unless there are really significant, unprecedented changes in the way capitalist economics works that the answer is "not likely." There are a whole variety of reasons for this, but probably the strongest one is this: Who controls the Internet? Right. Corporations. They own ALL the on ramps and most of the major highways. What do individuals own and control in this scenario? Squat. That's what privatization is all about. Given that corporations own the main thing that makes computers interesting now (the Internet)... it won't even take an act of Congress to outlaw open-architecture machines on the Internet. The companies can do this themselves... unilaterally. It's called a "service agreement."

posted by muppetboy at 3:09 PM on March 7, 2001

Ok, I see you point about internet access, and it s an increasingly valid point given they way that domain registars are going, and the way that ISP can control content on their servers, but how does this affect the market for PC hardware? Divorced form the internet, lets say.

How could someone outlaw an open arch system from internet access anyway? No really, if there is a way, I wanna know about it so I can start on a way around it ;D
posted by Hackworth at 3:53 PM on March 7, 2001

This article focuses on the home market but completely ignores business--a bigger client, and a place where an "internet appliance" simply will not do.

As long as there are general-purpose computers available for business (and there must be for a long, long time), then home users will be able to get them as well.
posted by frykitty at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2001

If it becomes illegal or even impractical to get on the Internet with an open or unapproved system... then the whole market for open systems will simply dry up... no demand. Why? Most of what people want to do will be on the Internet... the apps, data, content, entertainment, whatever... a computer without the Internet *now* is almost unthinkable. Wait 10 years and it will be pretty much impossible.

How could it be done? Probably lots of hardware changes will make people more accountable and make it tough technically to get on the internet with an open-architecture machine. But I already stated the killer weapon they have: the service contract. Under contract law, it's illegal for you to violate the terms of an ISPs service contract. If they do figure out that you're not running one of their proprietary systems, they can just disconnect you... and if there *are* no legal ways onto the internet with open-architecture hardware, then your equipment is a bit like teflon bullets except that it can only be used to harm corporations... and so they will probably be able to get your equipment seized by the police.

Okay, so here's the final nail in the open-systems coffin: indy ISPs will be unable to withstand the pressure on them to close off their services to open-architecture hardware. The relatively *enormous* mega-conglomerates that own the *backbone* of the internet (the thousands of miles of fiber optics and such) will simply *stop carrying their traffic*. Ooops. Game over.

posted by muppetboy at 4:30 PM on March 7, 2001

frykitty: I don't agree. Businesses have special privilege in our society. If they control the internet... then they can decide who can and can't use open systems. But it may not even go that far... simple economics could price ordinary people out of networks that carry open-systems traffic. Or some combination of the two...
posted by muppetboy at 4:32 PM on March 7, 2001

Just out of curiosity: If you're renting hardware to people what do you do when it's obsolete? How do you make enough money?
posted by davidgentle at 5:15 PM on March 7, 2001

Your service provider figures the cost into your service contract and you pay monthly. They also have a strong incentive *not* to upgrade you and probably won't unless the competition offers something with enough advantages that they start losing customers.
posted by muppetboy at 5:23 PM on March 7, 2001

Wouldn't a corporate internet be too boring?
posted by davidgentle at 7:01 PM on March 7, 2001

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