I have usually found the opposite to be true. In particular, I've found Linear Technology has excellent reference designs and demo boards. Remember, the quicker a vendor can get a part working in a customer's design, the quicker orders for those parts start rolling in. It's to a vendor's advantage to make designing with the part as easy and reliable as possible.
Free reference designs are important because smaller clients are becoming bigger portion of revenue stream for bigger companies with each year. And most of them will be manufacturing products for themselves, rather tham OEMing.
I realize that now. And, in fact, my question "should non-hardware reference designs be available for free" was not targeted at the Maxim folks.
The thing was that when I first saw their announcement, it wasn't obvious that there was a hardware component -- they just waffled on about schematics and layout files and then said "call to see howe much it is"
It was only when I really got into it that I realized that hardware was involved and that indeed the schematics could be downloaded for free -- but by then my mind was thinking about reference designs in general, so my question was more general in nature along the lines of "should any reference design from any vendor that does not have associated hardware be mnade available for free" -- my bad that I didn;t word this better.
But what about a non-hardware reference design -- should this also come with a cost involved or -- if using the design involves your purchasing that vendor's components -- is it more appropriate for the reference design to be provided for free?
But they are available for free. Scroll down to the bottom of the Alameda page and you will find "Hardware files" for free download. You don't even have to register.