Friday 18 December 2009

Does free mean altruism?

I am a Google user. This blog is one example. I also have Gmail, use Google Sites and of course Search. And Google PowerMeter is great. And it's all free! Well of course it means I accept some advertising component but free in the sense of paying. But I am also an Apple user. The MacBook Pro I am typing this on is one example. I also pay for MobileMe services which give me Mail, Websites and data syncing. It's a bit like how I sometimes watch commercial (ad-funded) TV, but I prefer the quality of BBC channels. Advertising pays for a lot but often the best or premium content is paid for by the user directly.

Google don't offer their services for free out of altruism, they do it to further the advertising platform that they use which is a legitimate business model. And just like with the TV, it is good that there are non-"free" alternatives in the marketplace, providing that they are actually delivering quality, and quality that is higher than the ad-funded competition. I am a great supporter of the BBC, but the fact that there are commercial ad-funded competitor channels only helps to maintain the quality the BBC strives for. Microsoft have provided lower quality paid alternatives (Vista, WinMobile, Zune) than Apple; Google are providing good quality free alternatives (Chrome OS, Android, etc.). The competition will be good for innovation, the marketplace and the consumer. I look forward to 2010!

No comments: