Free as a bird
Free to do as I want
In this economy, Free, is getting people excited. But what is it doing for your business? You can't make money by giving away everything for free...or can you?
If you could attend a conference for free, or pay for it, which would you choose? Most people would say free is for me.
So what happens when Google says Gmail is free and also has a built in size of at least 7GB, what's wrong with that? Companies who only use email and no calendar connectivity or anything else but pure phone book, this works for them.
Similarly when Google Apps is free(and their new Blackberry software is coming), or Lotus Symphony or OpenOffice, why doesn't everyone or anyone use them?
If Ubuntu Linux is free and could run your day to day life, would don't you use it?
If an iPhone were free, would everyone be using one?
RIM offers a handful of clients for free for Blackberry users to run Lotus Sametime, Connections and soon Quickr and Symphony among other apps they offer, so why isn't everyone using them?
Openntf.org has free templates for Domino applications, why doesn't every organization use them?
Even this blog and most others are free.
So the choice is not about free, is it? It is really about change and maybe eye candy. Or is it about resources?
Change hurts. Change costs money. Change is pain.
Change can also make you smarter, faster, lighter, wealthier and a leader.
Sometimes you must feed the seed of change with free products or services to show your better side and gain more traction in the marketplace, like Microsoft does or did, until you can charge someone for your product. The problem now is if everything from Twitter to TV is free, where does everyone make money?
Reputation. You can and will make money, based on you, the product, you the brand, and your reputation in an industry or a niche of your choosing.
So which will you be and which way will you lead your customers, employees and vendors?