Goodbye TorrentSpy

March 30, 2008

TorrentSpy 

TorrentSpy has been shut down permanently by it’s own owner. A note on the home page of TorrentSpy’s Web site said it is shutting down “not due to any court order or agreement,” but because of a team decision.

TorrentSpy has spent the past two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars “defending the rights of our users and ourselves” in a legal climate that was “hostile” to torrent files, according to the note, which is attributed to the TorrentSpy team.

In 2006, the largest Hollywood film studios accused TorrentSpy in a lawsuit of encouraging movie piracy. A federal judge ordered the company last June to provide the studios with user information found in its computer RAM.

TorrentSpy was a search engine that helped visitors find torrent files on the Web. Torrent files are often music or movie files stored in an easily shared file format. The search engine came under legal fire from the entertainment industry, which in general does not want licensed content to be distributed free.

In December, the judge in the case found that TorrentSpy operators intentionally destroyed evidence in the case, making it impossible for the Motion Picture Association of America to get a fair trial. They had earlier been fined $30,000 for violations of discovery orders and were warned of severe sanctions if they continued to ignore the orders. The site lost its case because the court ruled it had tampered with evidence.

Goodbye TorrentSpy!!

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Hugs are not free!

March 29, 2008

I guess I’m a little behind everyone else for the blog post about free, but I figure it’s about time I had my voice heard on the matter. I realize that probably no one besides Dave will read this due to too much free exposure to free, but here goes…

My first experience of free is when i got my first bank account. My mom and dad took me to Scotiabank to deposit money I had received for my birthday, and we put it in a bank account with an extremely low interest rate. About a year later, I received a notice saying that my account balance had gone up somewhere around the area of 1 cent. I was ecstatic. For some reason, the bank had decided to give me free money, for absolutely no reason (besides the fact that they had possession of my money for a year, but I didn’t know it then). I knew then that I would love free things for the rest of my life.Mob of people giving free hugs

On a different note, I’ve recently been reading Seth Godin’s blog post called Where to find great ideas and arresting images. In it, he quickly discussed how Flickr is a great place to get free pictures (such as the one to the right), as well as free ideas that can be used to put the picuture/image in context. Therefore, looking for inspiration, I searched over 500 images hoping for inspiration. I don’t know about inspiration, but I sure did see a lot of pictures about “Free Burma”, and “Free Hugs”.

In my search of free, I’ve realized two things. Nothing is ever free (including hugs), and people appreciate things more, if they aren’t free. I’ll touch on the second one first.

If a person’s greatest ambition is to purchase a new car, and they spend years saving every penny for this car, then when they eventually do get it, they will treat it like gold due to the hard work and sacrifice placed forth in obtaining it. If the same person were given a car for free, say like a student receiving a car from their parents, it is doubtful that this car will be treated with the same respect that it would have if they had personally purchased it. Free breeds disrespect for a product or service.

My second realization, nothing is free, I believe under every circumstance, must be true. Nothing would exist without someone putting forth an effort to create or obtain it. For the most obvious examples, technology, such as open source software, is not free. Even if it is free to the consumer, it cost somebody something. The developers of Linux give their software to consumers for free, but it costs the developers substantially in time and money. How do they make up for this cost? They charge people for the support of the software, like IBM does for Linux.

Conclusion, nothing is free. If one person gets something for free, another person (or company) had to pay for it. Hugs are free? No, they cost the person the energy and time to give that hug. Google’s search engine is free? No, Google makes billions in revenue as a result of having a search engine. Even if you find a $20 bill blowing across the road and pick it up, it is not free, because you had to expend the energy to chase after it and pick it up (as well as it cost the person that lost it by having $20 less, and having expending the energy in actually losing it).

At the very minimum, a product or service that a person receives for “free” cost someone time and energy. It is the amount of time or energy that a person puts into something that classifies it has free. At what amount of time or energy, is a product or service not considered free anymore? That is a question for the class, if anyone has indeed read this.

Cheers,

David McKenna

Apple and Free Music?

March 20, 2008

As we all know, the free craze has been forcing companies to rethink their business tactics. To my surprise, Apple is thinking about it as well. Apple + free music = Are you kidding me?! I guess this will be an add on to Dave’s post..

But of course there is a catch. To receive unlimited free access to the music library, customers have to be willing to pay more for the iPod and iPod Phone playing and digital media storing devices. Apple has to wake up and smell the coffee. Some of the company’s rivals are experimenting with new ways to distribute online music, even if that means giving it away. So as of now, “Apple is negotiating with record labels over a deal to offer a monthly music subscription for the iPhone, as well as an unlimited music bundle for both the iPod and iPhone” according to a cited unnamed music industry source.

As of right now, the iPod shuffle starts at $49, and the iPhones start at $399. No one is really sure as to how much prices with jump but one can only imagine. Oddly enough, approximately 10 percent of Apple’s revenues are made through iTunes. In 2007, iTunes made a 2.7 billion dollar profit for Apple. According to The Financial Times, “Apple sold $8.3 billion in iPods last year, an 8 percent increase over the year before.”

I think that it would be in Apple’s best interest to make free music available to customers without jacking up prices. Then again, Apple has become the world’s second largest music retailer in the U.S. To my amazement, Walt-Mart Stores Inc is the world’s largest music retailer.

The Freaky Land of Free

March 17, 2008

downloadable-free-ebooks-image-787-money.jpg

   Chris Anderson’s popular Wired article, Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business, covered the various characteristics of free in relation to our ever-growing technology savvy society. One of the areas discussed stated that the question surrounding infinite storage was not if it would happen but when it would happen. And the answer is that it is already here, it’s just not all online services choose to embrace it. However the ones which have choose to embrace infinite storage, like Yahoo, are profiting from cooperation and collaboration with what their consumers want and will find a way to get. Other increasingly prevalent obstacles to the digital environment today, like free music, bandwidth, and processing power, are being considered by dominant firms like Google and in-turn are profiting the most from the predicament. It may appear to be free to the user, but someone else is picking up the tab; whether it is the company offering the “free” product, or the rule of 1% which claims that 1% of users support the remaining 99% through advertisements. Companies are no longer specializing in selling products, but selling advertisements or cheaper products which entice the consumer to purchase something else located in their store.

Read the rest of this entry »

Type the word “FREE” into google search engine and in (0.22) seconds you will have about 3,810,000,000 results for FREE.

FREE = $0

After my reading to Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business By Chris Anderson I think it is a great interesting study, though very long article, or set of articles! Also, Chris Anderson did not mention GNU/Linux in his article!!
Many companies use Gillette’s business model today to create demand for their goods. Clothing shops offer you a free shirt with your purchase of one (Buy 1 and get the 2nd for FREE). Give away the cell phone, sell the monthly plan take Telus a cellular phone provider as an example they are giving away a Samsung u410 cell phone FREE on a 3 year contract. The phone cost $199.99 with no contract!

Here are some of the points that Chris makes:

Once a marketing gimmick, free has emerged as a full-fledged economy. Offering free music proved successful for Radiohead, and bands on MySpace. The fastest growing parts of the gaming industry are ad-supported online gaming and free trial multi-player online games. Virtually everything Google does is free to consumers, from Gmail to Picasa to GOOG-411.

The rise of “freeconomics” is being driven by the underlying technologies that power the Web. Just as Moore’s law dictates that a unit of processing power halves in price every 18 months, the price of bandwidth and storage is dropping even faster. The trend lines that determine the cost of doing business online all point the same way: to zero.

It is now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as weconsumers are concerned. Storage now joins bandwidth YouTube = FREE and processing power Google = FREE in the race to the bottom. Basic economics tells us that in a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. There’s never been a more competitive market than the Internet, and every day the marginal cost of digital information comes closer to nothing.

The result:

Two trends driving the spread of free business models across the economy.

1. Technology is giving companies greater flexibility in how broadly they can define their markets, allowing them more freedom to give away products or services to one set of customers while selling to another set.

2. Anything that touches digital networks quickly feels the effect of falling costs.

Chris goes on to list six business models of the “Free” Business Models:

  1. “Freemium”What’s free: Web software and services, some content. Free to whom: users of the basic version.
  2. Advertising – What’s free: content, services, software, and more. Free to whom: everyone.
  3. Cross-subsidiesWhat’s free: any product that entices you to pay for something else. Free to whom: everyone willing to pay eventually, one way or another.
  4. Zero marginal cost – What’s free: things that can be distributed without an appreciable cost to anyone. Free to whom: everyone.
  5. Labor exchange – What’s free: Web sites and services. Free to whom: all users, since the act of using these sites and services actually creates something of value.
  6. Gift economy – What’s free: the whole enchilada, be it open source software or user-generated content. Free to whom: everyone.


FREE shipping on almost everything you buy:
There is a website www.freeshippingon.com it enables you to search Amazon and eBay for items that have FREE shipping.

The Giveaway of the day project, is a new website in the software distribution world. Everyday they offer a FREE licensed software. The idea behind this initiative is that many sites and publishers offer trial downloads; but only Giveaway of the day offer giveaway downloads. What does that mean? Basically, every day Giveaway of the day nominate one software title that will be a Giveaway title of that day. The software will be available for download for 24 hours (or more, if agreed by software publisher) and that software will be absolutely free registered and legal version for Giveaway of the day visitors. The download link will remain on Giveaway of the day for the agreed period of time, in addition to the review of the software product and the information about other products from the software publisher presenting the giveaway title. Giveaway of the day pay the software publisher for the Giveaway license, and our visitors will only receive those after downloading a special verification program and agreeing to the Terms and Conditions, thus protecting software publishers’ interests and making our initiative beneficial for both clients and publishing companies.

what happens when you giveaway stuff for FREE

Taxonomy of Free:

  • Freemium: Flickr is free, but you pay for Flickr Pro
  • Advertising: Google is free, but with ads
  • Cross-Subsidies: cell minutes are free, but you pay for voice-mail
  • Zero Marginal Cost: online music is free, because cost of distribution is almost zero
  • Labor Exchange: like Digg, using the site itself creates value
  • Gift-Economy: Wikipedia and parts of craiglist, truly free without ads.
  • Skype – basic in network voice is free, out of network calling is a premium service
  • Flickr – a handful of pictures a month is free, heavy users convert to Pro
  • Trillian – the basic service is free, but there is paid version that is full featured
  • Newsgator – the web reader is free. If you want to synch with outlook and your mobile phone, that’s a paid service
  • Box.net – you get 1gb of virtual storage for free, but you have to pay for more than that
  • Webroot – you can get a free spyware scan, but for full protection you need to pay

A friend of my recently purchase a new car (Volkswagen) where the car dealership sold him the car FREE for the first four months, I was amazed!

That reminds of the ad-wrapped car you drive the car FREE and at the same time you advertsiting or marketing a product for the company. Companies looking for people to drive ad-wrapped cars typically use a special service dealing exclusively with wrapping their vehicles. These businesses manage the list of potential drivers and match these people up with the right companies. For you, that means these ad-wrapped businesses want to know how often you drive in a week, how many miles you generally drive, how many locations your car is parked at and also how many hours your car is parked at these locations.

You can almost can anything for FREE !!

I was interested to know how how Open Source Software like Sun Microsystems? The answer is through training, consulting, and support services.

Question to my classmates and Chris Anderson, will universities ever considering education for FREE?

March 16, 2008


Reading Chris Anderson’s article from wired.com, shed a lot of insight onto how different businesses are developing a 0$ business plan, by offering many services and products for practically nothing. This has a lot to say regarding how different companies and markets are evolving to capture consumers minds everywhere.

After reading the article, there was one thing that stood out in my mind. From my marketing class that I took last semester we talked about pricing strategies. Not saying that companies GLOBALLY have adopted an experience pricing strategy (Where the longer you make a product you find cheaper/efficient ways of producing that product, thus forwarding the savings onto the consumer), although I believe this plays a role in why things are being able to be sold cheaper almost to the point of being free. Competitiveness. Companies are becoming more and more competitive to grab consumers from other companies, and because several aspects of their company (in storage, and other products that can be produced in mass quantity) have become cheaper to create, maintain, and obtain.

Webmail has been around since you first got your computer. Only once you signed up you were given a limited amount of memory in which to store your emails. Of course you were always given the opportunity to PURCHASE extra space at a monthy/or annual fee. This was how the companies gained a profit. However, with the ability to create more storage for less money, companies are now offering UNLIMITED storage for emails for free. How will they survive if they no longer charge for extra storage you ask? Take Yahoo! For example. If you have an email account with yahoo, you are more likely to use their other offerings such as search, IM, etc…. With more people drawn to their free unlimited storage, this would also increase the usage of their search engine etc… where other companies would be drawn to this customer base to advertise.

Cell phones are becoming more and more popular. Everyone goes through the hassle of researching monthly plans, phones that come with a plan etc… There are two things to discuss here. The cost of cell phone plans have stayed relatively the same over years, with phone companies gaining a lot of their income from users that go over their monthly limit on minutes, text messages etc… What has changed though is the number of calls you can make monthly. Each phone call you make has relatively no cost to the phone companies, therefore to stay competitive, they continue to increase the amount of minutes and/or text messages. For my first cell phone I was charged 25$ a month for 80 minutes. That’s right 80 minutes. That seems ridiculous if they offered a plan like that now. For the same price one can get a plan that has at least 100+ minutes. Again cell phone companies like to stay competitive.
With the ability to stay within your limit of phone calls and/or text messages how to cell phone companies gain income? If you’re unable to get a “free” phone with your plan, you’re looking at 80$ plus to have a decent phone, and if you don’t have a plan, you are looking at over 200$ for the phone of your choice.

Fred Wilson created a great term “Freemium”. This ties in with webmail, but applies largely to free applications. Many free applications are funded by advertisements, or restrictions on what you are able to do unless you purchase the “Pro” version. With this, companies that offer these such applications are able to make profits from other companies advertisements, especially if the application is powered by other users (ie Limewire, Kazaa etc..), and also make a profit from selling the “non-advertised” version.

The cost of music CDs has declined over time (I remember paying 20$ for a CD, when you can get CDs now for 12$ or even less). This could be attributed to many factors: rising demand of CDs over cassettes, the lower cost of producing a CD, or competition from downloads. The music industry is finally understanding that lowering the cost for music (for downloads mostly), is a great way to effectively reach many more people, and thus increasing the amount of sales for any given song.
In the future I KNOW we will see many more services, and products be offered for basically free of charge, even those services or products that we may have not been introduced to yet.