Why you had better learn to love your freeloaders

2013 has been the year of the freeloader: from freemium SaaS business models, to the continuing re-organisation of conventional news media, to the Open Source industry, the unstoppable rise of stuff-for-free continues to expand beyond music and games.

And it seems that few industries will be immune to it in the long term – digital manufacturing and 3D printing make it much easier for consumers to produce their own stuff, so if they’re widely adopted physical manufacturers could face the same sort of freeloading that is redefining music, video and games sectors. A whole range of businesses need to start engaging with the idea that a portion of their revenue is likely to be under attack, and under attack from people who love what these businesses are doing and want to share it.

These are the ideas behind The Curve, which is the best analysis available of why this is happening and what businesses can do about it. Here’s a nice 2 minute summary of what it’s all about:

The point is that as well as a challenge, the technologies that enable freeloaders also represent a huge opportunity – to assemble a great fanbase, to understand exactly what they want, and to provide much higher value services and products for the ‘Superfans’.

Don’t think that this is just a B2C phenomenon, either. Back in February, our CEO Tales on Open Source dug into this question a bit, and how a product that is accessible to all, freely, can make a great business model. The corporate superfans of OpenSource products value a range of things – professional support services, maintenance contracts, configuration services, even hardware, and their valuations for these products are high.

We’ll be bringing these perspectives together on the 22nd November with a special afternoon edition of CEO Tales, a seminar on how The Curve can work in your business. If you run or invest in a business online, you can register here.

Eventbrite - CEO Tales: The Curve - From Freeloaders to Superfans