Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

Free by Chris Anderson

Who?

Entrepreneurs, product managers, and marketers.

When?

As soon as you can reasonably get to it.

Why?

Free is an excellent discussion of the move to freemium, open source, and all around free products.

Best Quote

Piracy happens when the marketplace realizes that the marginal cost of reproduction and distribution of a product is significantly lower than the price asked. In other words, the only thing propping up the price is the law protecting intellectual property. If you break the law, the price can fall, sometimes all the way to zero.

Review

I really enjoyed Chris Anderson’s Free. It jibed with what I feel has been a predominant change in many markets. At the same time though, I have read several biting critiques of the book and been told by an equal number of people, “That’s crap,” so apparently, the market is divided on this book.

For my part, I do not see it as particularly difficult to swallow that companies are able to offer something free because the unit cost is essentially so low that it’s not worth tracking anymore or because the value of the growth they get for being free can be traded for something like advertising revenue or the revenue from a complimentary, non-free product. Nonetheless, many of the critiques that I have read seem to not be able to draw the distinction between free and non-free products from one company. For example, Anderson talks about how Google can offer free services – search, YouTube, etc – and monetize the eyeballs on the free product with advertising dollars. Most of the criticism leveled at Free appears to be of the “if you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold” type, which makes sense, but seems inappropriate here.

Last Word

I would recommend this book to anyone in business, but also anyone that is interested in how societies, markets, and the world change. I really like The Long Tail, and I think that Free is better. I believe you will too.

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