It was in February 2008 that the Wired Magazine postulated ‘freeconomics’ as the future of business and the ‘vaporization’ of the traditional value chain. ‘Free’ was the new buzzword for the next months. But now, a year later, Kate Bradley considers it even possible that we already killed it.
What happened? And what’s the cause of death? And could it be that it is a murder without a corpse? That we just got tired – of the lack of quality? “The first time a previously expensive good or service is made free, we’re drawn to it precisely because of the freeness. The fifth time or tenth time, not so much,“ notes Seth Godin in his blog and I agree with him.
Maybe some people were also fooled by the ambiguity of the term, as Chris Anderson from Wired suggested recently at the SXSW in Texas: “One of the biggest advantages of ‘free’ as a marketing tool is the fact that the word has a double meaning in English – free as in freedom, and free as in price. In English we take all the good connotations of ‘free’ and use them to sell something.”
The point is: If you don’t value anything everything is too expensive. Think about your IT environment and the processes you run. Think about how you can weigh expenses and results and value it. If you do so you will find out that pure cost cutting is unsatisfying. But if you think about what to cut and what is worth growing it gets interesting. And if there is a use for something a value is guaranteed.
When I went back to the basics of the freeconomics as it was introduced to us a year ago, I got stuck at the following phrase: “Free is not quite as simple — or as stupid — as it sounds. Just because products are free doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere, isn’t making huge gobs of money.”
In other words, the question about how to make money around free content is still continuing. Especially when the market for free gets crowded. And offering a free product doesn’t guarantee much of anything. They will have to pay you to try it.