OK, I could be wrong. But here’s the thought:
I reckon that in 5-10 years time, a lot of software will be constructed by putting together a set of independent web-services. Software will no longer be a single unit, it will be a set of components talking over networks. (am I wrong?)
If one of those components is open-source, and one is not…. it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the API’s used for each of those components is open, documented and stable…. and fascilitates other components talking to it.
In this sense, the ‘free’ as in ‘open’ is achieved by the openess of the API. But the ‘free’ as in ‘beer’ can be achieved by services such as IM platforms where the useage is free and unlimited.
For example, GTalk is implemented using the Jabber/XMPP protocol and useage is free … (or, Twitter … sigh…).
OK … but what happens if Google decides it has had enough of GTalk and shuts it down? … hmmm, then any apps built with it will fail. Not sure what that means…