Today’s Obsession: Ignoring Wired’s Grandstanding

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You may have heard the hubbub surrounding Wired magazine’s proclamation from last week, “The web is dead.” That got guffaws in some circles around for using a ridiculously oversimplified data set to make its claims.

The last time the magazine made such radical claims was 2008, when it posited that free was the future: free starter plans supported by a paying user base, free DVD players with purchase of media, and so on. Considering it’s been some time and considering our economy has utterly tanked since then—how’s free looking?

Not so well, it turns out. In times of plenty, free can work because paying customers who pay to begin their relationship with a product are more plentiful, thereby supporting the free users. Now, however, they just aren’t doing that when it’s clear the free option might be enough. It turns out that in many cases in the software community, free customers are so accustomed to getting things for free that they simply don’t see why they should upgrade to a paid plan at all. But, even more curious, when the free option is removed, paid-user sign-up grows quickly.

While this obviously isn’t strictly design related, it’s a big reason behind the fact that design budgets (especially those online) are under such pressure to go lower all the time and what we can do to help stop that hemorrhage.

Read more—the comments as well—at the charmingly straightforward “Software by Rob, Lessons learned by a Serial Entrepreneur.”