FREE = Long Tail 2.0
This month's issue of Wired Magazine contains a great cover story by Chris Anderson titled "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business"
I think Chris does a wonderful job describing the rise of "freeconomics" -- and is a must read for people thinking of shrinking a market.
It even contains a nice summary of my "Penny Gap" post:
From the consumer's perspective, though, there is a huge difference between cheap and free. Give a product away and it can go viral. Charge a single cent for it and you're in an entirely different business, one of clawing and scratching for every customer. The psychology of "free" is powerful indeed, as any marketer will tell you.
This difference between cheap and free is what venture capitalist Josh Kopelman calls the "penny gap." People think demand is elastic and that volume falls in a straight line as price rises, but the truth is that zero is one market and any other price is another. In many cases, that's the difference between a great market and none at all.
The huge psychological gap between "almost zero" and "zero" is why micropayments failed. It's why Google doesn't show up on your credit card. It's why modern Web companies don't charge their users anything. And it's why Yahoo gives away disk drive space. The question of infinite storage was not if but when. The winners made their stuff free first.
It appears that "FREE" will be the title of Chris Anderson's new book, due out in 2009. I'm going to place my pre-order today.