Building a free future in embedded devices
Posted Oct 19, 2006 22:56 UTC (Thu) by bojan
In reply to: Building a free future in embedded devices
Parent article: Free gadgets need free software
> This leaves room for an enterprising competitor to enter the market with cheaper hardware (lacking the DRM), cheaper software (software gratis and libre), and on the whole, a device with more features. So even if most everyone else goes crazy, there is a sensible business reason for someone to invest in a free device, by virtue of the fact that Rockbox exists.
Well, sort of. A device without content won't be successful no matter what. The market for such things just doesn't exist (or is really, really small).
And now we get back to exactly where Tivo is - it's not the manufacturers that want hardware DRM - it is the content providers. So, if they start demanding en masse "have hardware DRM or we won't give you our content", Rockbox under GPLv3 isn't going to play (sorry, bad pun). Some reports related to this Creative story suggest that they removed recording because RIAA insisted on that.
So, when the manufacturers "discover" hardware DRM through their content providing friends, the game in this embedded market will shift to the next level. Now, whether having GPLv2 software available for such devices is a good thing (i.e. because it enables you and me to start a business making such things based on free software for less money) or not - I don't know.
PS. I wouldn't be betting on DRM enabled hardware (i.e. chips) being more expensive forever. If the demand for it goes up, it's going to become "standard feature" and the price will drop to the level of other hardware, or below, depending on volume.
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