There's a new meme floating around, "Freemium", a cute/clever word for a kind of business model. Giving it away free.
You may know that I am associated with a software product which is given away free. BlogBridge is a substantial, useful, real product, which for some crazy reason, we give away free. Everyone wants to know, "What's your business model"? So now I have a cool/web2.0 response: "Freemium."
Many people have written about this new term, even though as far as I can tell it was coined a few days ago! Aint the blogosphere great? Anyway Davd Beisel wrote a good summary of the basic concept and then builds on it, perhaps explaining why it is an appealing model:
"With the abundant number of technology-enabled services and content available today, customers want to mitigate risk in the usage and purchasing of them. By apportioning the clear payment associated with the value away from its initial transmission, business which do so address this need, fostering viral spreading, usage, and loyalty of their service." (from "Musing on Freemium and Ad-Supported")
My question is though, who is mitigating the risk for the author?
I've written about this, and have spoken many times about it: Why do we all expect great software to be free? Why do people turn their noses up when they are asked for a measly $29.95 for a work that took hundreds if not thousands of person days to create? In my opinion it is because of that expectation that we are stuck with monopolies and hegemonies that are so totally locked in. No-one can afford to compete!