According to http://gs.statcounter.com/#desktop-os-ww-monthly-201409-201509 the usage share of Linux based desktop operating systems is 1.55%. For mobile and tablet the share is much higher, 66.77% and 30.98% respectively. Why the huge difference between desktop and mobile/tablet? I believe the reason is that Android which is the dominating Linux based system on mobile and tablet has a business model which is much more profitable than what can presently be accomplished producing GPL licensed software which is what is used on most Linux desktops. Google can sell knowledge about its Android users to advertisers. Something similar cannot be done in a pure GPL environment because most users prefer privacy if they can get privacy for free. GPL has a free rider problem.
I believe the use of cryptocurrencies and specifically the use of smart contracts can radically improve the business model of pure GPL licensed software, not just operating systems but also applications, drivers etc. The reason is that software producers can start getting paid directly for their bug fixes and feature improvements. This is how the situation can be changed:
When a user submits a bug request (or a feature request) it could be made possible for that user to indicate how much he would be willing to pay to have the bug fixed. Other users could also chip in. The most wanted fixes would accumulate the largest rewards and developers would therefore be more willing to fix those bugs. So if users have offered 1 bitcoin to fix a bug and a fix is commited the 1 bitcoin goes to the developer/company who produced the fix. This can more or less be done with the technology we have today. The bug reporting system should preferable use bitcoins because transaction fees are very low and bitcoin is a global currency just like open source projects are global in nature. The only flaw I see with this model is that in practice there is probably no consequences for users who does not pay as promised.
Enter smart contracts, which I expect we will have within a year or so. With smart contracts the amount the users promise to pay can be locked so that no one can spend the the money until either
A) a fix is committed which automatically sends the money to the one who developed the fix or
B) some user specified time frame has expired. If no fix arrived in due course the bitcoin is automatically paid back to the user.
With this vision of the not so far away future I think it should be obvious for open source fans that they should start embracing cryptocurrencies right away. Take donations and payments in bitcoins, save and spend in bitcoins, and include bitcoin wallets in your operating system and so forth.
If you want to spend 20 minutes understanding the reasoning behind bitcoin I recommend you watch this short video:
However, you will learn a lot more if you instead watch this documentary about the history of money: bitcoin – the end of money as we know it. If you use the promocode bitcoinsteffen you get 40% off rental or purchase. I am not getting paid in any way by the filmmakers.
If anyone wants to lead a project implementing these open source business model turbo boosting ideas please get in touch. Everyone else who might want to be a part of the project are also welcome to get in touch.