I recently finished Free by Chris Anderson. I got the book for free on my Kindle (clever marketing). Anderson’s premise is that free is now a legitimate pricing model and we’d all better start thinking about how to earn a living when what we do for a living starts being done for free by someone else.
I suppose there is some truth to his premise, as demonstrated by several examples, including the long distance telephone call. I’m far more onboard with this idea than Anderson’s Long Tail premise, but it still doesn’t feel right to me. Many of his examples don’t either. Most notably, his book example. There were 550,000 books published last year in the US alone — about 20,000 per day. Take out the sell-in-the-back-of-the-room promotional stuff and that’s still a lot of books. I guess that’s what leads to my rub on Free.
I still believe people will pay for quality, however they define it. I’d rather pay to eat at Harry & Izzy’s than get a free steak from Western Sizzlin’. Sure, free is tempting, and it will always exist as a marketing ploy. I’m just not convinced that all costs will converge on zero.