I have a feeling that Kevin Kelly is about to rock my world again.
The first time was about 1995. A co-worker of mine handed me a book and told me that I had to read it, immediately. That book was Kevin Kelly’s Out of Control, and that book singlehandedly fueled my interest in how complexity and emergent behavior can arise spontaneously out of seemingly trivial interactions. It also stood on my yearly "re-read" list for almost a decade.
He’s now working on a new book, and putting his nascent thoughts up at the Technium (backstory here).
A recent post, Better Than Free, explores eight different sources of value for the business models that may (will?) underpin the cases where a "product" can be super-distributed (and in some cases, created) for free. Kelly posits the valuable things in a free-conomic world are:
"Immediacy — Sooner or later you can
find a free copy of whatever you want, but getting a copy delivered to
your inbox the moment it is released — or even better, produced — by
its creators is a generative asset.
Personalization — A generic version of a concert
recording may be free, but if you want a copy that has been tweaked to
sound perfect in your particular living room — as if it were performed
in your room — you may be willing to pay a lot.
Interpretation — As the old joke goes: software,
free. The manual, $10,000.
Authenticity — You might be able to grab a key
software application for free, but even if you don’t need a manual, you
might like to be sure it is bug free, reliable, and warranted. You’ll
pay for authenticity.
Accessibility — Ownership often sucks. You have to
keep your things tidy, up-to-date, and in the case of digital material,
backed up. And in this mobile world, you have to carry it along with
you. Many people, me included, will be happy to have others tend our
"possessions" by subscribing to them.
Embodiment — At its core the digital copy is without
a body. The music is
free; the bodily performance expensive. This formula is quickly
becoming a common one for not only musicians, but even authors. The
book is free; the bodily talk is expensive.
Patronage — It is my belief that audiences WANT to
pay creators. Fans like to reward artists, musicians, authors and the
like with the tokens of their appreciation, because it allows them to
connect. But they will only pay if it is very easy to do, a reasonable
amount, and they feel certain the money will directly benefit the
Findability — Where as the previous generative
qualities reside within creative digital works, findability is an asset
that occurs at a higher level in the aggregate of many works. A zero
price does not help direct attention to a work, and in fact may
sometimes hinder it. But no matter what its price, a work has no value
unless it is seen; unfound masterpieces are worthless. When there are
millions of books, millions of songs, millions of films, millions of
applications, millions of everything requesting our attention — and
most of it free — being found is valuable."
Which of those eight are baked into your strategies?
(hat tip: chris anderson)