With today's Free Summit broaching the subject of the "dangers" of free, TechDirt has an interesting perusal of why free often can't work without a good business model
and why it often gets such a bad reputation. "I tend to wonder if this is really a case of free gone wrong or free done wrong. First, I'm always a bit skeptical of 'free' business models that rely on a 'free' scarcity (such as physical newspapers). While it can work in some cases, it's much more difficult. You're not leveraging an infinite good -- you're putting yourself in a big hole that you have to be able to climb out of. Second, in some ways the model that was set up was a static one where everyone focused on the 'free' part, and no one looked at leapfrogging the others by providing additional value where money could be made. The trick with free is you need to leverage the free part to increase the value of something that is scarce and that you control, which is not easily copied. [...] Still, it's an important point that bears repeating. Free, by itself, is meaningless. Free, with a bad business model, isn't helpful either. The real trick is figuring out how to properly combine free with a good business model, and then you can succeed."