Monday, June 29, 2009

Free or Fee: Gladwell vs Anderson

In a previous post, I explained why WASP isn't free, and recently, I promoted my consulting services with the headline "Web Analytics brain available - for a fee" and I've done my share of inflamatory posts about the utopia of "Free".

Malcolm Gladwell, author of three books I loved reading (The Tipping Point, Blink! and Outliers), replies to Wired editor Chris Anderson and adulated author of "Free: The Future of a Radical Price" (honestly, I read the article and had enough).

I go with Daniel Tunkelang, blogger at SmartDataCollective, who wrote "Malcolm Gladwell to Chris Anderson: No “Free” Lunch", which led me to the New Yorker article "Priced to sell: if free the future?". Tunkelang says:
Ultimately, Gladwell dismisses Anderson as a “technological utopian.” That’s harsh, but I think it’s on target.
I agree.

In his usual style, Gladwell brings very good arguments to go against Anderson's views:
Free is just another price, and prices are set by individual actors, in accordance with the aggregated particulars of marketplace power.
Why are the self-interested motives of powerful companies being elevated to a philosophical principle?
Apple may soon make more money selling iPhone downloads (ideas) than it does from the iPhone itself (stuff). The company could one day give away the iPhone to boost downloads; it could give away the downloads to boost iPhone sales; or it could continue to do what it does now, and charge for both.
    Hmmm... Enough said :)
    Post a Comment