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July 31, 2008



I feel much more comfortable with this one, compared to your Wired article. I absolutely agree that free can be effectively used as a part of a business model. I thought the Wired article was a bit extreme. I hope you are making progress in refining your thoughts.

Here are the simple reasons why I think free can only be a part of a business model (and the overall economy).

1. In reality, it always costs more than zero to supply anything.

2. Even if you can provide something for free, you need to make money somewhere.


Actually Chris,

I believe Steve Jobs is wrong on this one.

P2P content is actually easier and quicker than paying for it on iTunes, considering how long it takes to actually unlock the DRM from any purchased song.

Try my media search engine www.EverythingAmplified.com

It's quicker than iTunes and it has a much better Long Tail selection. (Plus, no DRM)

Don Kim

Coincidentally I read this blog right after reading an article in the Economist about the backend benefits of internet piracy. No doubt with the enormous ubiquity of information and media sharing going on, that the savvy companies, businesses and entrepreneurs will find ways to take advantage of all this open information.

chao lam

Is "... one that *ads* a new dimension to the open source ..." an intentional mistake? :)

Chris Anderson

Er, no ;-) Fixed...

Steven Hodson

This philosophy is all well and good and I'm not arguing the basic premise of it at all but there is also one other very basica fact that has to be dealt with in this equation and that is an all encompassing way for us to pay for those goods should we want to.

Not even one in the world has a credit card nor can they get one. The vast majority of major outlets support only credit card payment. For exaple I might very much to open an itunes account without a credit card (I've tried more then a few time to verify this). I might want to buy books or other goods from Amazon but I can't because they only support credit cards or US based debit cards - not everyone who wants to buy goods lives in the US.

I manage fairly well with online buying because I do have PayPal but not even having that option let's me shop at places like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft or a vast majority of other possibilities.

Until there can be a ubiquitous payment method that is honored by all business on the web and that isn't tied to a credit card or geotarded debit card systems the people who would really prove this philosophy as being viable can't.

Matt Haughey

From the first issue of Make Magazine, I could see this playing out, and I've often been frustrated when some really cool homebrew project that would take me a week to build wasn't for sale by others. It started with the Kite Camera for me, I just didn't have a couple saturdays to devote to building the somewhat complicated project.


It's totally true. Love the post, and love your book. Just stopping by to say hi. I am working professionally in concept art and design for video games.
Chris, you guys and your communities rock my sock off.
I found this Rich dad Poor dad book a year back, then...stumble upon internetbusiness mastery, then your book (The long tail), then seth godin...
Just want to say, my life is changing drastically. I feel like I have more control over financial independent then I thought I did. But working for people and with people have tough me a lot of great deal.
Anyway, I build a blog almost a year back...every single step is planed out. Offer tons of free tutorials with the long tail...then shorten it day by day.
Now I have products...it's amazing...how to community will support you and your products.
Now I am just waiting for the good time when everything meet my expectation so I can quit my career even though I love it. But what could be BETTER than get to do whatever you want to do along the same line without having a boss or corperate dictate your direction.
It's getting there.
Thanks a bunch!!!
Keep Rocking and cannot wait for your new book!!!


Wish I had more of both, time and money!

Scott Beveridge

In theory, your plan sounds wonderful. But, in the real world, people don't rise above their debts and cross over to la la land. If they don't paint the house, it doesn't get done.


I guess Chris is right: 'Free' has an enourmous appeal to a lot of people.

Examples: "I want to have al the music I love on my iPod, but I'm not paying 5000 times 0.99$. I copy the hard disk of a friend, for free". Nowadays you can follow the world's news without a NY Times subscription, so you go to their website and read the news, and some ads... Etc.

DIY is another closely to 'free' related phenomenon. In Belgium, where I live, an own house seems to be the summum of self-realisation. A lot of young people do things themselves in the house to save skilled workers fees. Like: install the heating, painting, building walls or a roof...
They are so-called working for free, at the raw materials cost, to build a bigger house to impress friends, use more exclusive materials, or buy design furniture and lighting.

When they grow older, and have more money, you see the skilled workers coming in. At that age, people have more money and realise that they can spend their time better than painting and building...


This is one of the best articles I've seen in a long time about the benefits of a freeium economy. I think you've nailed the free-to-play, micro transaction model squarely on the head with the Maple Story example. As more and more of these titles continue to reach US shores, more and more gaming publishers are investigating the model, and EA taking a main role with it's upcoming release of Battlefield Heroes.

Excellent writeup - there need to be more like these!

David Hobby

Hey, Chris-

This post really resonated with me. I was a newspaper photojournalist (how's that for a career with a future) for 20 years. In 2006, I started a small blog with the intention of leaving a few bread crumbs behind for the new guys - to teach them how to light better with small flashes. It was all free, and did not even start with a commercial compass point in mind.

My last two years have read pretty much exactly like the steps in this post. An accountant friend told me in the early days that the information I was providing was valuable. So I should charge say, $25 for a year's subscription to view it. Boy, am I glad I did not listen to him.

I have learned that free is far more powerful than any ticket booth.

Thanks for all of the time you have spent thinking about these concepts. They are everywhere, but your articulating them so well is making the path easier to understand.

David Hobby

p.s. The only thing I do not like about your magazine is what it does to my schedule for the rest of the day when it arrives in my mailbox. WIRED totally rocks.

Jeff Paul Internet Millions

Thanks for posting such vital information. I am new to the blogging scene. Any and all pointers are helpful.

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i wish i had more time.. plus, i feel that free is a business model that will eventually fade out

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'Free' has an enourmous appeal to a lot of people.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!