I'm not really super impressed by the article. First because there's not a lot new and visonary in there and secondly because I think mr. Anderson leaves out some relevant facts just because he wants to believe in what he's writing.
These are some observations I have now...
Ryanair didn't make anything free. They made it cheaper but not free. The article points out where the company makes money but I think that it's equally important to point out that their customers simply pay less for less. Boarding from the tarmac, and no food or drinks are obvious ones but a real cost to the customer is also that they are typically a 60$ cab ride away from the city they want to visit instead of a 30$ ride. Just saying that for the customer that way of travelling still isn't anywhere close to free.
In the business models section, mr. Anderson refers to Open Source as being a Gift Economy. Sure, some of the contributors are giving away their brain cycles for free but most contributors are being paid for contributing by their employers because their companies adopt the system or because their companies run a pure 'cross-subsidies' business on the 'free' software. Most of the time, there's very little altruism involved.
Some companies give away their services for free because they are not in it to become profitable. They just want to get bought by Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. This is the bubble type of free. The low cost of offering these services enables these companies to do so for a while before they run out of VC money.
Just to be sure I'm not misunderstood. I love the fact that we can enjoy many more things at lower costs. However, I believe 'there's no such thing as a free lunch' still stands. If you get something valuable, you will return something valuable. If not as an individual, then as a group . And would bring us back to the long tail story :-)
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