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Ubiquity of "free" and the new online business...

The article linked above is an excellent analysis on the issues that attend the ubiquity of free content and free services online. It highlights the obvious truth that profitability in the long run will be found from attempting to profit from services that can not be easily copied and distributed online. It mentioned several qualities that can't be copied by the internet however it fails to mention only that the ubiquity of free is not restricted only to the ability for content to be copied online, it also involves the ability for the models of business to be copied as well. For example, "trust" is given as an example of a quality that can't be copied online but this isn't really true. If a network can be built that can harness trust between individuals that join that network it can be used to secure business from those users for having provided that service. Similar provider networks catering to the same need would also be providing this service and if enough of them are doing it online , then the value derived from facilitating the trust networks between people will also eventually go down. So as I see it, the "free" model is a bit like a virus, in that it facilitates copying not just of the content that is distributed or created online but it also reduces potential value that can be derived from a given business in at least the intangible quality of "trust". I haven't done a full analysis of the other qualities mentioned by the author in the article above but my guess they would be similarly susceptible to the same dilution of value over time. It is still a very interesting article in that it does give the general trend that we have been watching happen over the last 10 years.


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