Is "Free" a Dirty Word?

My last entry detailed a bit of the presentation that Chris Anderson gave at BAI TransPay.  As previously stated, it was the sort of presentation that generated a fair amount of buzz.  Meals, the expo floor, the hall, and the hotel bar were all places where the topic of "free" was broached.

So, is "free" a dirty word?

Well, if nothing else, it is a term that seems to engender a fair amount of emotion.  This response, sometimes vitriolic…sometimes constructive, was most frequently just driven by confusion.  The topic is not simple to grasp.  Nor is it simple to simply describe.

Fortunately, Chris just posted a series of links that provide substantial additional context.  The blog entry can be found here.  I would highly encourage that, if you have interest in the topic, you peruse all of the links.

I find it interesting that, as of yet, there doesn’t appear to be much discussion of "free" as it relates to the worlds of commerce.  I suspect this is due to several factors:

  • A general misunderstanding of, or lack of familiarity with, the topic
  • Difficulty applying the taxonomy of free to current business
  • A general distaste for the tried model of "cross-subsidy" (free toaster anyone?)

However, as business changes, the understanding of the concept of a business landscape driven by "free" will become increasingly important.  This is, by no means, my last post on the subject.  As I continue to develop thoughts/ideas/half-truths about the subject be assured that they will be shared with everyone (typically ad-nauseam).

What’s your perspective? Agree? Disagree? Anything to add? Critiques?
The comment form is below. . .

February 13, 2008

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