WinThusiast -> IBM & Microsoft Vs. Piracy war (8/4/2004 7:10:27 AM)
Microsoft products and peripherals like Photoshop, Page Maker, MS office, Corel Draw and so on are sold for less than one tenth of their retail price. Advertisements keep popping up on my computer day in and day out. I used to routinely delete them and think no more of it. But yesterday, when another pop up, this time an ad of IBM's Linux did, it set me thinking.
For the uninitiated, IBM is the most internationally pirated form of computers. Their nearest rivals Apple Corp can't hold a candle to them. Of course, the above sentences shouldn't in any way be taken as a comment on their performance or quality.
Now let us get to the moot question: why are Microsoft products being sold like there is no tomorrow? Why did yesterday's bestsellers become duds today?
One should go into the background, of how Microsoft became the giant it is today ,to understand this phenomenon. Initially, all computers were operated with a MS DOS (Micro Soft Disk Operating System). This series was released in 1981 and naturally, widely pirated. While IBM's machines were sold on licence to others in the ASEAN area, Microsoft came up with a revolutionary product, Windows. Unlike IBM, Microsoft's boss Bill Gates had absolutely no problem when his flagship product was pirated left, right and centre. It soon came to pass that windows became an operating system for all computers in all countries.
Wherever the laws of patents and other intellectual property rights were enforceable, Windows made a killing.
Bill Gates became a multi billionaire and called himself Chief Software Architect of Microsoft. Meanwhile, IBM was happy that it was receiving a small amount of royalty from those who deigned to pay them and let it go at that.
That was the state of affairs till recently. Now, IBM which has a stranglehold over the hardware end of computers, is intent on taking over the software end as well.
About two months ago, they had aggressively begun advertising their product LINUX in the Indian market. It could be downloadable freely from the internet and there was no price tag. More importantly, Linux was compatible with Windows.
Sometime ago, another company Netscape – which was Microsoft's competitor tried its best to edge Gates' product and got nowhere. Such was the power of Bill – who reportedly made several thousand dollars a minute.
I've often heard 'facts' bandied around that go something like, "If Bill Gates were to come across a wad of notes worth $10,000 lying on the ground, it wouldn't be worth his while to bend down and pick it up." Now, if it isn't worth his while to pick up $10,000 it must be worth his while to pick up some amount of money, i.e. there must be some threshold value. While Bill Gates' may have a threshold value of, say, $12,690, for the rest of us it will be much lower."
The above paragraph is a short extract from a write up on Bill Gates in a very famous website.
In other words, unless US $12,690 are lying on the ground unattended, it wouldn't be worth good ole' Bill's time. That was true as of a month ago.
The truth in such a claim was chipped away by IBM. Microsoft is being bearded in its own den, by the very products that used them and made them rich. Now IBM has woken up.
But is this the only area where new ideas like free or almost free stuff killing competition? Sorry folks. The answer is an emphatic NO!
A few Hindi television software companies like (the chairman of one of these companies was gunned down in Mumbai a few years ago) has come up with movies you can 'legally buy' for just Rs 50 a copy. If you know the video vendor, he or she will gladly come home and hand it over.
Initially I was shocked about the whole thing. How could an entire movie with songs, music, fights, sets, and all be sold at Rs 50 a copy?
A little research solved the problem. A real print of a movie (from which more video prints can be made) costs nearly Rs 25,000. If one were to hire top stars to act in them, and erect huge sets, naturally, the costs would be close to Rs 5 lakhs a print.
But suppose, a crop of new, rich, but talented group of artists, music directors, art directors, sound engineers, singers, et al come together and agree to work for free!
The actual cost would only be in the region of Rs 5 a copy – because that is what a compact disc costs at the manufacturing point. This system – some money for the artistes and the people who produced it, and some more for those who market it, will make it worth the while.
Just suppose a million copies are sold (easily within the realms of possibility) there would be a collection of Rs 5 crore – which is the normal sum of a low budget movie.
Unless the marketing company gyps the artists and the original creators of the film, very soon, we may see multiplexes becoming shopping malls (some of them already have) selling downloaded versions of Linux for, hold your breath, Rs 50!
If this culture of producing a video or VCD or DVD movie catches on, there wouldn't be any big time movie houses and rush at cinema theatres. All that the friendly neighbourhood video rental guy has to do is send a circular to all his customers, and sell legal Videos (be it in cassette, Compact Disc or DVD form) all for a pittance. In the long run, depending on the number of copies sold, the movies would be mega hits – crossing the present collections of such affairs.
The arithmetic would be something like this: Rs.5 for the cost of the VCD; Rs 5 for the publicity; (these days there are so many channels showing lottery results and wouldn't mind showing these visuals free), Rs 10 for the major distributor, Rs 10 for the group of artistes (actors, music directors, lyricists, art directors, extras sets and so on) and the balance – to be shared between the producers' collective and the video marketing company! If a million copies of each movie are sold, everybody would be happy and more importantly, rich!
Sometime ago, Eknath – one of the pioneers of video (others called him a pirate) came up with this scheme, but failed miserably due to factors beyond his control. Now the Punjabis are onto his trick and are on to a good thing.
If this thing succeeds, we may well see the day when multiplex owners start selling movies for a joke of a price and other knick knacks like greeting cards, books, gift articles and of course, the original idea – freely downloaded user friendly copies of the operating system called Linux!
Source: T S V HARI