These arguments might be explained by differences of understanding in the nature of 'free' software. RISC OS has a long history of 'public domain' software which was always free as in beer but not necessarily as in speech (to employ the usual metaphors). It's not really anyone's fault, they're just expecting what they're used to.
With true open source software the code is given to the community for them to use or abuse as they like. In this situation control can only be exercised by the model of 'he who writes the code, calls the shots' i.e. if somebody wants to fork development and other people want to use the fork then the only recourse of the original developer is to write better code that people want to use even more.
It truly is a shame that this mentality hasn't been more prevalent in the RISC OS world as it clearly is a very effective software development model. Had it been so we might even have had our favourite OS running on something like the XO ([link])....
I agree with you (tamias) but at the same time the continuing interest is a testament to the fact that people DO believe there is something worthy of attention even if some/many (like me) aren't currently using it. RISC OS Open has left me more optimistic about things than I have been for many years.
We can argue until the cows come home about ARM based machine vs commodity hardware and most of the comments above have merit however the licensing of the OS is, I believe, still the major obstacle.
The current situation has left us all victims of chance and the whim of a few buisnessmen, some of whom knew very little about RISC OS itself. I would relect that since Acorn's demise I've spent more on things that looked hopeful for RISC OS but which turned out to be nothing of the sort than on products that still exist. How many other people bought Psion netbooks because of the rumours of RON? How many other people bought a copy of that graphics package that simulates the effects of the inks used in particular printers (the name escapes me now but it seemed to have great potential at the time only to be unusable now due to activation requirements not to mention the bugs! - I can well understand the annonyance many people are showing towards VA's similar choice). Even issues of the number of developers are related to licensing. Why write/update an application for a platform which could so easily disappear? Contrast this with the fact that we can be very comfortable that one thing related to RISC OS, support for the ADFS format, will survive for the forseable future - it's part of the kernel.org linux distribution.
I don't mean to be pessimistic - comments over the last few weeks have given me the first glimmer of hope that more future-proof licensing is possible.