FIrstly most Independent Freelancers don’t do programming. The biggest value that a Freelancer adds to an End User implementation, is the ability to give an unbiased third party voice to the implementation process. The main role, is something like a liason between the NSCs project manager, and the Client, making sure that the NSC is doing their job right. I know that NSCs don’t like this, but no one is perfect, and the only way that a client can understand the lingo and know what they are really signing is to get in an independent.
The biggest problem that Freelancers have is that generally after a short period Freelancing, they get a great offer from an end user to join as an employee. Of course only the bigger Navision implementation can afford a full time Freelance on board, so there is still plenty of work left with the smaller (<$1 Mill) systems.
Of course a lot of the larger cleints eventually see the advantages of having in house developers, and purchase the Application Builder, and take on a full time developer.
There are also Freelancers that basically work as contractors to a few NSCs and do development work for them. But that model just does not seem to work.
By the way, a developer licence costs a lot more than $25k keep in mind that first you have to buy a FULL Navision License, all the Designers etc, and then you cna look at buying the Application Builder. Mind you with the new Pricing model that will be more “affordable”.