A tired attempt to scare you away from freeconomics


Aren’t we supposed to take a hands-off approach to the market? Like, whatever happens, happens? That’s what I thought.

ReadWriteWeb today has a counter argument to Chris Anderson’s everything will be free thesis, only it’s among the weakest counter arguments I’ve ever read. The gist—free does not equal good. Good can mean a quality product, something in the best interest of the consumer/business or whatever feels right. Par example, Gmail, being free and having unlimited storage from the get-go, put Yahoo! into a weird position. Now, instead of being able to have a Web mail model where Yahoo! can give away a 10MB account (or whatever) and charge $50 (or whatever) for more space, it has to give away mail for free, lest it go out of business.

Yes, that’s usually what happens. If it can’t compete, it goes out of business. Why that’s so horrible, I don’t know. RRW says that Google was able to abuse its position—you know, its non-existence in Web mail—to launch Gmail for free, thereby screwing Yahoo!. I don’t see why you’d want to punish Google for having the wealth to give away a product, but RRW thinks differently.

The rest of their arguments are just as head-scratching (except maybe that free does not alway equal a high-quality product. See Comcast’s excuse for a DVR remote). I suggest you read Anderson’s piece first, then RRW’s retort. Then RRW’s infantile arguments seem even more silly.

Beware of Freeconomics [ReadWriteWeb]