Some folks look to Nostradamus for signs of what will come in the future but for some insight about where the online economy is going we need to look no further than 1969 and the soothsayers known as Three Dog Night After recently reading Chis Anderson’s newest book Free: The Future of a Radical Price I can’t seem to get my mind off how huge the leap from 0 to 1 really is for the consumer. Would you use Gmail if it cost $.01 per month? I wouldn’t. Not only would the service no longer be monetarily free but it would also take more of my time to pull out my credit card and enter all that info to charge that one penny. Free is free and everything else isn’t.
So we know we can use free to get people to join but what can we do with the converse of free. In the words of Seth Godin, “Money creates a sort of friction.” He asserts that this friction can sometimes be good, postulating that if Craig’s List charged for listings, the quality of the listings would go up, the site would become easier to use and the revenue generated would sky rocket. Given that this could be true, my attention goes immediately to those who would not be willing to pay. Who would serve them? As soon as Craig’s List moved away from free a new player would move right in, and would have figured out a way to get the same quality of listings and list them for free. It seems that technology, and ingenuity combine to drive the market will always trend towards free. Our job as marketers in this age is to work to increase the quality and availability of free, both monetary free and free time, since the freeist free wins.
They say every man has his price, well mine, and more people every day agree with me, is free