An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: US farm machinery giant John Deere has estimated software fees will make up 10 percent of the company’s revenues by the end of the decade. Chief executive John May offered the projection in a Wall Street Journal report on how Deere has plowed billions into developing self-driving tractors and crop sprayers that can tell the difference between weeds and produce. Though farmers are already struggling with operating costs — including fertilizer and fuel — Deere wants to sell software subscriptions for operating its ever smarter vehicles.

Bernstein analysts estimate that the average gross margin for farming software is 85 percent, compared with 25 percent for equipment sales. All Deere’s tractors and harvesters have an autopilot feature included as standard following decades of ushering farmers into more technology-driven agriculture. However, the company now plans to have 1.5 million machines and half a

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