I remember the first time I heard anyone discuss the idea of "free" being a price point we'd see more of in the future. It was during a stint I did working with Joe Coates, truly one of the all-time greats of the futures field.
I ran across the idea of "free" in a set of assumptions Joe had compiled, aptly titled 82 Assumptions About the Next 25 Years back in about 1997(!).
Assumption 22 stated:
- "Telecommunications within the United States and Europe will be so cheap as to be effectively free..."
Check out the pdf on Joe's site for some of his other prescient thoughts on the future made in the mid-1990s.
So while the idea of free isn't new, we continue to see it gain traction, and this has surely accelerated since the dawn of the web, as this article from today's Fast Company reminds us...citing examples like Facebook, Etsy (free e-commerce pages for sellers), Twitter, etc. This article has made me take a little time today to consider how "free" might disrupt our business model as a trend and foresight consultancy, and you should spend some time thinking about this question, too.
As fodder for that, why not download a copy of Free as a Price Point, a research brief that was published last year as part of Innovaro's Global Lifestyles project. It looks at the drivers, challenges, various "flavors" of free, and some of the implications for business, and should spark your thinking.
Download a copy (for free!) here.
~ Chris Carbone
Tweet me @ForesightINV
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