There is a popular saying:
If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.
This frames our relationships with Google, Facebook, etc. All those “free” web services that are trading in your data.
But there is a corollary:
If you don’t have the source code, and are willing to use it, you’re not in control of your future; consumers only have control of the past.
This is a lesson lots of large and small companies and governments have learned. It’s been a driving force in the rise of Linux and Open Source in general.
Recently, the new “app economy” has started to get hit by this, as this is a broad new consumption market. The sparrow acquisition by google has been a recent flash point.
Hopefully people participating in the app economy are going to start realizing that it does matter whether or not you have source code, and the right to use it to these apps.