sgtrock: Well done for *completely* missing my point.
"Taken a look around your house lately for any new electronic gadgets"
They made their money selling me the DEVICE not the software. Therefore software licencing is irrelevant.
"Tell that to Red Hat. IBM. Amazon. Wall Street. Google..."
Did you miss my point about sugar daddy sponsors? It was even in the bit you quoted. Also well done for mentioning Rat Hat who are a prime example of a company which has had to start obfuscating their updates to prevent third parties taking their support revenue, a direct result of using the GPL.
As an aside, why does an OS need a support contract anyway? Neither myself nor the company I work for has ever needed to contact MS for support with Windows, why should someone pay for support from Red Hat? The very fact people are paying third parties indicates that it is *nothing* to do with supporting the cost of maintaining the OS and presumably to do with (possibly unnecessary?) complexity of the product.
Thanks for the personal insults. Grow up.
Let me try and explain this.
Writing software is expensive, computer programmers are highly skilled and command relatively high pay. Any software being written outside of their own time needs to be paid for in some way.
If the software isn't of use to a massive company like google, IBM etc then you're very unlikely to get anyone to sponsor it, smaller companies, and particulaly public sector organisations simply do not have that sort of money, therefore you'll need to get a smaller amount of money from a much larger number of people/organisations.
You can do this in two ways, sell it, or charge for support (or a combination). The former is pretty much ruled out by the way the GPL works (even if they deny it), therefore your only way to get money is to charge for support (the number of people who will simply donate is negligable). This has several implications:
a) Your end users must see your product as actually requiring support, and be happy with this. If people do not need support generally they will not pay for it (it's hard enough getting some people to pay for a commercial product as it is!).
b) This support revenue will need to cover the initial development cost and the ongoing development costs. This generally means that someone else will be able to provide support (especially since the source code is available) at a fraction of the price. Most of your customers aren't likely to think long term enough as to what the consequences are of you going out of business.
The general result is that you have to design your product to *require* support, even if it shouldn't really, and still anyone can set up a company and screw you over by providing your support cheaper. If you disagree then I suspect you have a much higher opinion of people's decency than I do (of course, according to the GPL they aren't even doing anything wrong!).
Consider the example of an AAA computer game with a multi-million pound budget. If that has to be released under the GPL (assuming games consoles supported it) how many people do you think would pay the company for support? They would download it and play it for free perfectly legally. The company would go bust and no one would ever write a high budget game again.
The point is that the GPL is *not* suitable for most commercial software but it tries to make out it is, and cretins like Stallman and the FSF are trying to force it on everyone by claiming anyone not using it is evil.
As a side note: I've no problem with source code being 'open' to people that have actually paid for the product for them to read, update, fork or whatever they want to, so long as anyone that uses that code (or things derived from it) has purchased a legitmate copy of the original from the company that *spent the money developing it*.
The fact is, if you were right you would find that most commercial software (talking business software, consumer software such as game etc) is under the GPL. It isn't.