Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Can you Compete with Free? Yup.

The music and movie industries have been belly-aching for YEARS that if they don't sue their own customers when they download music, then the artists will all starve and we will never ever have music or movies again. For a while, they made only crappy movies and music in order to "prove" it; people stopped going to the theaters and concerts, and they blamed this reduction of their obscene profits on what they called piracy. They said, "We can't compete with free."

The computer software industry just groaned and kept right on doing it.

And now there's someone else doing it too.



Yes. The major chain truckstops (TA/Petro, Pilot/Flying J, and Loves) have been selling WIFI connections for several years. They charge ridiculous prices, up to $7 an hour, and even make you jump through hoops to create an account, which is an obnoxious addition to being overcharged. And yet, there are a lot of smaller truckstops which offer FREE WIFI, and don't even require you to create an account or even pass through a landing page (like what McDonald's or Starbucks makes you do), and yet it's the big truckstops which see the most trucks parked during the day.

Oh, its the fuel prices, you say. Or the credit agreements. Yes, true, but that doesn't stop an individual driver from choosing where he will stop during the day. At night, sure, he goes where he's got a free shower, but in the day, he has no constraints which force him to choose a big truckstop over a small one when he stops to take a leak.

But that's probably not good enough for you. I'll make it simpler.

Inside many Pilots and Loves you'll find a McDonald's, which as you know is offering free WIFI. The truckstop itself still offers a PAY WIFI, and what's more, it STILL gets bought! It's very easy to find free WIFI nowadays - I can get online to swap emails several times a week now - and it costs me nothing. And yet, there are still a lot of people out there who keep right on paying $7 an hour for something they can get for free.

Think that's still not good enough? I saw a video a couple years ago (see above video) in which one guy was giving away free hugs and another guy was selling hugs for $2 apiece. Who gave the most hugs? That's right, the guy who was selling them. And by a large margin.

While this might demonstrate that people are stupid, it also demonstrates that you CAN compete with free. The computer software world has proven that Windows, which is expensive, outsells Linux, which is free. It proves that MS Office, which is expensive, outsells Free Office, which is free.

Oh, but Windows and Office have more features, and they're better made, you say.


And if the music and movie industries want to compete with free, all they have to do is make it worth our while. Suing their own customers is NOT a valid business model.


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