The dominant business model on the internet today is making money by giving things away. Much of that is merely the traditional media model of using free content to build audiences and selling access to them to advertisers. But an increasing amount of it falls into the free-sample model: because it is so cheap to offer digital services online, it doesn‚Äôt matter if 99% of your customers are using the free version of your services so long as 1% are paying for the ‚Äúpremium version‚Äù. After all, 1% of a big number can also be a big number.
In 2008, the year of free, Yahoo! will go one better than Google and expand its free webmail to infinity. More music labels will give away music as a promotion for concerts, following Prince‚Äôs free distribution of his album in Britain‚Äôs Daily Mail in 2007 and Radiohead‚Äôs offer to let fans choose their price‚Äîfree, if they want‚Äîwhen they download the latest album. And more newspapers will publish their content free on the internet.
All this marks a pattern. When the cost of serving a single customer is trending to zero, smart companies will charge nothing. Today, the disrupter‚Äôs motto is ‚ÄúBe the first to give away what others charge for‚Äù. If you listen to the technology, it makes sense.
In dem Economist-Ausblick aufs Jahr 2008 namens The World In 2008 schreibt Chris Anderson unter dem Titel Freeconomics, über sein Thema des Jahres 2008: die Umsonst-Kultur im Netz. Der Wired-Chefredakteur und Autor des Buchs The Long Tail hat schon im Sommer angekündigt, zu dem Thema ein Buch zu veröffentlichen. Titel: Free