I do not find it hard to believe that everyone needs a copy of Bridge, and I've been asking for it since it first got detached from the Photoshop File Browser. Bridge SHOULD be available as a standalone product. I do not believe that it should be free, however. Perhaps it should be included with the solo point products, or perhaps as a standalone for $49 or $99 or $199; that's for smarter people than me to decide! Now, Bridge is available with Photoshop Elements, so savvy folks will agree that Adobe would be hard pressed to set a price above $99, the list price for Photoshop Elements.
Unfortunately, we, the consultants on the ground and sales folks I support, have a hard enough time getting customers to stay within two versions of current with Creative Suite. Ask the InDesign Secrets folks how many classes they still run for CS2 to CS3 migration, or how many classes they run for InDesign CS! I frequently get requests for help in old, deprecated versions of CS apps.
I have customers in many verticals, but let's look at the ad agency space. Believe it or not, every agency isn't particularly flush with cash. That having been said, I am asked to work within a mixture of Creative Suite versions and also a mishmash of point products. Also, I find that many agencies are part of larger holding companies that have no standardization for their graphics tools, but they do have standardization for operating systems and Office apps. This means that although ABC agency may have K4, and XYZ agency may have Bridge, and JKL agency may have XINET, they are all owned by QRS holding company which holds the purse strings for all of them. Now, another thing to know about agencies is that they are often representing competing brands. In Pharma, one holding company may represent competing smoking cessation drugs, and the two product teams are not allowed to interact. The business firewalls that exist between the agencies also extend to workflows. Also, tool and workflows are often dictated by the client. If a client is using InDesign CS or even QuarkXPress 4 to create and edit collateral, there's no chance that CS4 is making its way to the agency, despite how much better it is for productivity and product quality.
Bridge, though, is a tool that can work across versions and across platforms, and introduce customers to some of the efficiencies of the latest version of CS. If Bridge were installed, for instance, it will allow files to be opened easily in the apps we want, not the ones the OS demands. It will provide an interface to XMP, and super-duper image and file previews, image comp PDF sheet generation, photobook web site creation, and more. Editors and copywriters need to add metadata to photos and other files, but they don't want to browse to a CMS/DMS web site, login to the site, search for images, and then tag them. They need add story tags, content id numbers, cost centers, and a whole host of other contextual information to these assets. Bridge simplifies this whole process and makes it accessible to everyone.
Depending on a CMS/DMS to take up the slack in XMP/EXIF workflows is not practical, since these systems aren't even close universally deployed. I work for some very large agencies with very, very large customers, and many of them rely on basic folder structures on a shared file system for content management. Naming convention is the version control method, and duplicate files per project is the norm. Enabling Bridge outside of the creative department would expose more people within those companies to the power of XMP, and perhaps allow the creative departments more flexibility to upgrade. If XMP is important to Adobe, and the Omniture acquisition tells me that metadata and activities around metadata are very, very high on Adobe's list right now, then universal Bridge deployment should be just as high. Waiting for operating systems to catch up (at least Vista and Wondows 7 can interact with XMP and MacOS can display EXIF info) will be counterproductive to this goal.
The utility of Bridge should be seen as the teaser to get folks to deploy the latest version of Creative Suite rather than a benefit of the latest version of Creative Suite. Universal Bridge deployment would increase adoption of Creative Suite and, by extension, improve Adobe's bottom line.