David Stutz writes an insightful article about the way software really is:
The right way to view software is as pliable building material, rather than as finished product.
Because of this, Doc Searls’ metaphor of the software industry as the construction industry is nearly perfect: those who build and maintain software are like the millions of architects, builders, and contractors who help us maintain and preserve our homes, businesses, and public places in the face of dryrot, hurricanes, vandals, changing family sizes, and all of the other forces that conspire to ruin them. The guild of craftsmen who join software to service, software to device, and software to other software are not factory workers cranking out uniform widgets. They are journeyman integrators who create vernacular items matched to quotidian requirements. Of course there is a mass market, but mass market software, like any other prefab item, is destined to be far less than perfect.
I think we will continue to see a mix of both – shrinkwrap software and software-as-service. Reliable anc cost-effective bandwidth in emerging markets is still a challenge, so not all software can be delivered like a utility. One difference which I can see is that to make computing affordable for more users, it may be better to run the software on a centralised server, rather than all the individual desktops. This can can the ownership costs and maintenance hassles of the client computers.