Originally Posted by That One Guy
That's a very good point. Assuming people don't get greedy because they have a large following and either start charging or ruin the product for profit (I'm looking at you, PFT), the alternatives are being deprived.
The question, though, is are these startups ever capable of being as good as the established?
Well, since the freeware alternatives to antivirus are already superior I'd say yes, they are quite capable of being better than the established standard.
And if the free options did get too big for their britches you can be sure another freeware alternative will rise up to knock them down as well.
The only thing that keeps overpriced software the standard is people refusing to try the alternatives. Look at Windows as an OS. It's been jank for years, everyone complained, but everyone used it. Now that compelling options are appearing on other formats (iOS and Android, most notably) we're suddenly seeing MS scramble to keep Windows alive with declining sales numbers.
Instead of just tolerating a single product's hegemony people were willing to try the alternatives. End result - market turnover leading to innovation and competition. That's good for us end consumers.