Just because the cost is hidden doesn’t make it free
Consumed => “In Defense Of Free” by Fred Wilson on A VC.
My value add (i.e., left a comment)…
I’m going to presume I’m repeating plenty of other comments but I’ll say this anyway…I’m not so sure I read one example above that was in fact free. Perhaps the costs are being displaced, shifted or masked (read: the harvesting of personal data) but those costs still exist.
To paraphrase, “If you’re not sure what the product is, then you’re the product.” Many of these “free” platforms don’t charge because if they did they would have no product to sell. But to say that they are free to their users is at best misleading, and perhaps even Newspeak.
The old media model was fair. The receiver gave nothing but got something for “free”. That’s hardly the case today. If the truth were transparent then (for example) Facebook would be named We’reMakingATonOfMoneyOffYouSuckers.com. Seven years ago such discussions made sense. On the other hand, at this point I would think we should moving the discussion beyond (the illusion of) “free”.