Free Is No Longer What You Get…

My father taught me an old adage when I was a kid, it went something like “you get what you pay for” alluding to the idea of if it’s a cheap price, then it’s a cheap product and the bottom of this barrel were those things which were free.  As growing up in the late 60’s and early 70’s the idea of free was “trash” as that’s all which you got at that time for free as we sat at a time of clear business models where “a dollar spent was a dollar earned” and the idea giving something for nothing was limited to the “free sample” in the Dixie cup at the grocery store deli counter.

Yet that was then and this is now, where a lot of things are free especially in the digital world as once you create it there almost isn’t a cost to replicate it.  This has been a game changer for the business community in that the younger generation has grown up with this model and takes a different viewpoint than their parents and grandparents.  As free to them is more of a norm then a novelty as they are expecting free more and more often and in fact this “entitlement” feeling even bleeds over to the physical product world [from the digital].

Yet when writing the word entitlement in the last paragraph, the quotes were used to call this out as this is how the boomers see it (which includes yours truly).  Yet the realization which I’ve come to that is exactly what it is, a perception and not necessarily a reality as in the adage my father taught me regarding “you get what you pay for“.  The epiphany here is if it were not for recognizing this, I would have been stuck in a flawed paradigm (as many people are).  As what makes for great is seeing the world for what it really is, as many people make up their worlds with their own belief systems much as the early Europeans did by claiming the world was flat!

Yet back to the “free movement“, what the driver happens to be in “free isn’t me” is the fact it is instead all of us together and this is what free does as it brings us together.  Well maybe not everyone, yet the many rather than the few in fact are coming together because of “free”. Now, one man’s free is another man’s opportunity as even the icons of capital, the venture capitalist are supporting the praises of “if it’s free, it’s for me mentality” as the reward is later culled in the popularity.  As just download the latest version of Angry birds on your iPhone and you will see the little banner at the bottom telling you how to cover up the grey with a new hair color.

While I won’t even say we are in the advertising 1.0 marketplace, we are however headed there as we will buy things which we value and/or make life easier and more fulfilling.  As in the figure of speech, many things will be free, however it will be “good stuff” which makes it all the better.  Today we see pioneering efforts in the game space here, where you can play the game and achieve the higher levels in due time maybe, or you can pay to jump ahead.  Empty achievement I can hear you ole timers saying out there, as in the day you sat in front of that Atari 2600 for months to get to the supreme level of Frogger right?.

Well let me ask you a question, what was the goal?  Was it to sit glued to the tube for months “or” get to supreme level of Frogger?  Again the later and our young friends buying upwards is nothing more than them buying the skills of others as you have education right, and you may even have a student loan to prove it so what is the difference?    In fact personally I find this interesting as well as creating a reinforcing loop in the “free is for me” mix.  As in the Atari days we weren’t collaborative, we were in fact islands where today’s kids are social animals as there assuredly is a Facebook page for shy introverts to prove it.

As by “buying up“, today kids are in fact shorting the cycle time and allowing for greater achievement by acknowledging the knowledge and abilities of others.  This is allowing them to play forwarded at a far faster rate than was possible in the past.  Therefore allowing them to reach new levels of understanding at a quicker pace than possible in the past when they were islands.  Now if business just understood this…