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The Power of FREE

The Internet is filled with places to get free information, free software, free content, it’s all there for the taking. We can click and get whatever we want right? The Internet is a giant copy machine, we copy everything, imagine what would happen if you took the copy function away, you would lose the the listening function. What would happen then, revolt, maybe the hackers would be the politicians? Pirates would rule the Internet world, how would you stop them or should I say us?

Personally, I think most content should and will end up being free on the Internet, we will figure out how to monetize around that free content, we have no choice, it’s going to happen. There will be wars over intellectual rights, copyrights and royalty fights before it’s all said and done. Access will come before ownership. When we see a threat, we default to protectionism, we should be asking the question, how do we go from copyright to usage rights?

There is so much confusion as to where Social Media is taking us, it’s really reshaping Media to where the new sell is the conversation, the non tangible things matter now more than ever, this is a drastic disruption to old thinking. Why is Social Media so powerful, it’s FREE! You can join any number of Social Networks at no cost, build a following, a brand, and hopefully trust. The best thing is to sell something different like, convenience, experience and trust, generate demand, create new innovation and maybe even add value to the orginal.

Most Blogs provide free content, some have communities attached to them where you pay a small fee to be part of, they add value to a need, that’s one way of monetizing around your content. If you are going to be in this space, you have to decide if you’re going to compete.

Linus Torvalds released Linux back in 1991, Slackware was the first distro to be released, it’s a free operating system that has spawned a number companies that have figured out how to monetize something around the Open Source code. Open is good, it stirs the creative juices, it brings about innovation, and takes creativity far beyond any closed system has ever dreamed of going.

The power of free is far reaching, provides a platform to build something far greater than any one person, we must collaborate to build anything of true value in this attention space. Do you think FaceBook won’t make money from the free to join social network? Where you can be connected to thousands of people, business contacts, business owners at no charge. They will, and it will be astounding how much that will be.

Think of all the things you can get it for free, then think of all the content you can’t get for free, what’s important to you in this circle, that’s what you will pay for. But I can promise you this, if you can get for free, you will, even if it means you have to hunt for it. If you create content of any kind, offer it for free, you will harness the power of your audience. You can’t put content behind walls and generate new money, only in the open can you generate new money, and only then you will see the power of free.

About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  

8 Comments

  1. simbeckhampson on January 28, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    Hi Owen, another interesting read! I've been saying the FREE word for quite some time now and also agree it's not going away, in-fact it is and will continue to be the present and the future. It's interesting to see how Google's business model compares to that of Microsoft's. Google Apps is not free, but its very reasonably priced in comparison to the alternatives, but everything else they offer, in terms of tools, is free. Look how they have attracted the market using innovation, simplicity and free…inspiring business model.



  2. owengreaves on January 28, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    Building around free is not new, it's changing much like Social media is not New…it's just changing. It forces everyone to work harder to keep and win their audience. People always go back to places they find useful, not just free.



  3. Paul Simbeck-Hampson on January 28, 2010 at 10:17 PM

    Hi Owen, another interesting read! I’ve been saying the FREE word for quite some time now and also agree it’s not going away, in-fact it is and will continue to be the present and the future. It’s interesting to see how Google’s business model compares to that of Microsoft’s. Google Apps is not free, but its very reasonably priced in comparison to the alternatives, but everything else they offer, in terms of tools, is free. Look how they have attracted the market using innovation, simplicity and free…inspiring business model.



    • owengreaves on January 28, 2010 at 11:39 PM

      Building around free is not new, it’s changing much like Social Media is not New…it’s just changing. It forces everyone to work harder to keep and win their audience. People always go back to places they find useful, not just free.



  4. uberVU - social comments on January 29, 2010 at 3:12 AM

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by OwenGreaves: New Blog Post: The Power of FREE http://blog.owengreaves.com/the-power-of-free



  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Owen Greaves, Owen Greaves, Owen Greaves, Chris Penner, Thierry Lhôte and others. Thierry Lhôte said: RT @OwenGreaves: The Future of the Internet is in The Power of FREE – http://bit.ly/cnYHyt […]



  6. Rob Cairns on January 31, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    I agree with you. Free often means their is something around it like Adverting – Google's model. The other model built around free is to over a basic version and then for premium storage or services charge a nominal feel. Two products I use and pay the storage for are Evernote and Google Picasa storage.

    Offering Premium services around a basic free service is a good business model. People try the product, like it and then pay more to use it.



  7. Rob Cairns on January 31, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    I agree with you. Free often means their is something around it like Adverting – Google’s model. The other model built around free is to over a basic version and then for premium storage or services charge a nominal feel. Two products I use and pay the storage for are Evernote and Google Picasa storage.

    Offering Premium services around a basic free service is a good business model. People try the product, like it and then pay more to use it.