William Gurley, a general partner at Benchmark Capital (a VC firm), writes persuasively about the need for integrating hardware when selling software. It is a point of a lot of relevance for us, as we think of the Thin Clients / PC-Terminals. Perhaps, we need to brand the low-cost machines and sell it with the Emergic Freedom software, rather than ask the customer to get it on their own. We could also look at then making a “Thick Server” appliance. Points to ponder!
The hardware is not a proprietary design, but rather a type of packaging. (Think of it as an alternative to a cardboard box.) Combine this availability with the proliferation of Ethernet, TCP/IP, and license-free operating systems such as Linux and BSD, and this allows a company whose primary competitive advantage is software to deliver that software in a box — a hardware box.
Gurley gives a number of reasons why Software-in-a-box is a good idea: development complexity and quality assurance, performance, Security, provisioning, reliability, stability and customer service, pricing and distribution.