Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the this-story-has-morals dept

Another week done, another bunch of great comments. Topping the insightful list this week was an awesome comment from Richard providing some great historical perspective on how the retail industry learned how making life more convenient for customers -- even if it makes it easier to illegally get things -- actually has helped the bottom line massively. And this is a point that the legacy content players still don't get:
Real Physical shops have been moving in the opposite direction. 100 years ago you went into a shop and had to ask for each item from an assistant. It meant you could never shoplift - but it was expensive and time consuming. SO the shops put the stuff on the customer's side of the counter - and you collected it and took it to the assistant before paying. This was quicker - and even though it was now more possible to steal (though not that easy because the assistant could see the whole shop) the shops still felt that it was worth it overall for the increased sales and reduced payroll.

Next came the supermarket - which streamlined the process even further - though it did make shoplifting easier - but guess what - the shops still found it was better for them and swallowed the losses in return for more sales and lower wage costs.

Finally we progressed to the system in my local Waitrose - where the store lets you do the scanning and only checks up on you once in a blue moon. Now stealing would be even easier - and can even be done accidentally - but the store still thinks it's worthwhile for them.

Moral of the story ?

Trust your customers - just like the MPAA don't.
Coming in second is a comment from the Infamous Joe, responding to the news that some law enforcement officials had asked Google to remove a video that showed police brutality. Joe suggested a "little known fact"
The most effective way to stop videos of police brutality getting online is for the police to not brutalize people.

They should try that first.
For editor's choice, we've got two comments responding to the same comment from someone claiming that the "wild west" era of the internet is over. Zachary Knight responded by pointing out his preference:
I would rather have a wild west of an internet than a soviet America ruled internet any day.
While an Anonymous Coward provided an excellent history lesson:
The wild west days of America were about pioneering, establishing society and government. It was the forming of America and a time of great expansion and growth.

It's telling that you refer to the wild west as a bad thing.
Over on the funny side, we once again see a bunch of winning comments from anonymous users. No wonder so many other sites ban anonymous commenters. You wouldn't want them being all funny and stuff. The top vote-getter presented his or her theory on government:
Governments are like diapers, then need to be changed periodically, and for the same reason.
The second place vote getter, also anonymous, was also responding to silly government decisions -- this time a California politician who tried to ban raves (after attending one for "research purposes") by outlawing people sucking on pacifiers or carrying stuff animals at events on state property (you really have to see the video on that post for her stern "no pacifiers!" exclamation). Our anonymous commenters thought through the unintended consequences:
So will we see babies at state events patted down and their pacifiers confiscated now? Will small children be tazed for carrying around their dangerous stuffed animals and spreading rave culture? This is a perfect example of why politicians need to wait for the drugs from their 'research' to wear off before writing legislation.
For editor's choice, I have to admit that fogbugzd's comment explaining how he messes with Apple fanboys who claim that everyone just copies things from Apple, made me laugh -- because it's just subtle enough that some people will miss the joke entirely, which only makes it funnier.
There were a lot of things that other companies have "preemptively copied" from Apple. The most recent example I can think of are drop-down notifications which Android had the audacity to copy from Apple a few years before Apple put them in IOS 5. (I work with a bunch of Apple fan-boys who are always citing things that Windows/Android/RIM have copied from Apple. Sometimes those are things that Apple copied, and I refer to the phenomenon as "preemptively copying from Apple." So far they haven't caught on to what I mean by preemptive copying.)
And, finally, yet another anonymous coward explaining to use just why Righthaven seems to keep on losing:
The judge is just attempting to help Righthaven. It is offering them guidance on future legal battles. Please stop with these smear campaigns.
I expect we'll see more such guidance in the coming weeks.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    a.c. marek (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Richard's comment contains a decent argument, but it doesn't say anything about retailers' bottom lines, as the post suggested. It boils down to "all of the retailers made this fundamental change, so it must have improved their bottom lines." Maybe, but it's an implication at best.

    And the extrapolation to the film industry is quite a leap. A bit easier to say, look, I can buy the Blu-Ray for $15 and sit through 5-10 minutes of previews and FBI warnings, or I can download it. Richard's getting at this, I think. The movie studios would most likely increase sales if customer purchases were belonged to the customers.

     

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  2.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    "all of the retailers made this fundamental change, so it must have improved their bottom lines." Maybe, but it's an implication at best.

    These changes are the result of competition. The purpose of competition is not to improve the retailers' bottom lines - rather it is to provide services to the public at the lowest possible price - and I think it is pretty clear that it has succeeded in doing that.

     

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  3.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re:

    Of course the bottom lines of those who made the changes are much healthier than those who didn't - but competition has meant that most of the benefit has transferred to the customers in the form of lower prices.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, it is a rush to the bottom, to make the lowest margins possible but to attract the most customers. In grocery retail, it's all about turning your inventory as often as possible, making incredibly small margins on each ticket.

    It isn't a model that exports well to any business that works on wants rather than needs. Food is a need, everyone has to eat, and most people work hard to get the most for their money. But in entertainment, example, there is no need, only want. It's the first thing out the window when there isn't any money left.

     

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  5.  
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    freak (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "[Entertainment]'s the first thing out the window when there isn't any money left."

    The Great Depression called. It laughed at you.

     

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  6.  
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    Dementia (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps since its the first thing out the window the industry should give the customers more reason to buy? Now where have I heard that before???

     

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  7.  
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    Greevar (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Are you kidding me? The movie industry is in a uniquely advantageous position here. They have immense price elasticity. They can lower prices and make it up in volume, yet they refuse to do it because they want to maximize the profit margins thinking that if they can just get people to buy more copies, they'll make more money that way. This is delusional thinking on their part. They would make more money if their goods could reach more customers, even if they had to lower the price to do it. You're not going to get people to pay $20 for a DVD just because they can't download it for free, they'll just go without. They won't pay a price that's to your liking just because you took away the other option.

    This is the problem with a lot of business these days. They plan their business models around what they want and assume the goods they sell and the marketing they use will be enough to get them sales, trying to form a monopoly as fast as they can thinking it will make them more money. As a result, quality has been sliding downward drastically. They don't think about what the consumer wants most of the time, just that they secure their own bottom line. Start with what your customers want and build from there. It will restore the customer's sense of value in your goods. Treat them as burglar's trying to crack your vault and you'll only make them distrust you.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    I'm pretty happy that my trolling finally earned me a spot on here. From now on I'll troll twice as much.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    By definition, wanting to consume something that is for sale constitutes a "reason to buy".

    But if something for sale can be obtained for free, there isn't really a good reason to plop down money for it, is there? That's essentially charity then.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I guess that's why the bottled water industry failed so hard?

     

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  11.  
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    loaderboy (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 6:00pm

    copyright

    "Governments are like diapers, then need to be changed periodically, and for the same reason."

    I would like to make that into a bumper sticker.
    Which AC owns the copyrights?

     

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  12.  
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    freak (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 6:08pm

    Re: copyright

    Reader's Digest, 1968.


    According to a very quick google search. Whoever submitted it probably got it from somewhere

     

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  13.  
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    freak (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Re: copyright

    In a more lucid tone, what I mean is that this saying long predates the internets.

     

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  14.  
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    Spaceman Spiff, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 6:13pm

    Nothing new here...

    Nothing that Apple did was not done before, starting with the UI they stole for the Mac/Lisa from Xerox. Jobs' main contribution was to steal Unix from UC Berkeley for NeXT and OSX, and to put that all together for a decent phone UI. So, in effect he was a GREAT integrator, and created products that normal people can use without being computer geeks. I salute him for that, but as for being a technological innovator, he was never that. All the technical innovations in his products were created by others, such as Wozniak and the like.

     

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  15.  
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    Ron, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 8:01pm

    Re: Nothing new here...

    >...Jobs didn't do anything, stole something free, blah blah blah

    You haters are really obsessed about Jobs aren't you?

    Like the Think Different ad said
    "You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you canít do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. ..."

    Jobs changed how people use computers, how they buy/listen to music, gave control of phones back to the manufacturers, and as a final act revitalized the table category. No wonder reactionary types hate him I guess.

     

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  16.  
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    Greevar (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "By definition, wanting to consume something that is for sale constitutes a 'reason to buy'."

    Wow, I made a comment in this very thread talking about how businesses think their goods are reason enough to buy and here we have an example of exactly that.

    "But if something for sale can be obtained for free, there isn't really a good reason to plop down money for it, is there? That's essentially charity then."

    Yeah, nobody buys Evian or Dasani, do they? People just collect rain water and bottle that for free instead. People pay for that because they get the added value (gasp!) of having a bottle of water than can take with them when it's convenient. That's what bottle water sells: convenience. There's plenty of added value that can be attached to digital goods that can provide a reason to buy it. You're just not accustomed to divergent thinking due to having an MBA or a law degree.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 9:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I can't get Evian and Dasani for free. I sure wish I could.

    Don't know where you live, but I buy them because of the quality of the water. Water is kinda important stuff.

    Got another example?

     

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  18.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Oct 30th, 2011 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Re: Nothing new here...

    Jobs changed how people draw squares.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 11:30pm

    even if it makes it easier to illegally get things

    I question what it is "illegal", if it is illegal to share music or movies I'm a criminal and will never be redeemed.

    It is to easy to label something as bad and start trying to punish it, but nobody seems to be asking the question "It is really illegal or just the wishful thinking of a very small class of people?".

    We all know the answer, we all can see it, we all have pirate friends, sons/daughers and family, we all did it and people even do it by accident as some detractors of Mike were quick to point out in the other article about the Hell Angels logo trying to say "It was an accidental thing" it was not copyfraud, but if anybody tried to call it accidental copyright infringement they be labeled lying thieves and those same people would be asking for all the rights of people to be stripped so they could punish them.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 11:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes you can, Dasani comes from tap water.

    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0304-04.htm

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 11:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    People don't buy music, they don't buy movies, they don't buy cars, they buy feelings, they buy status, they buy for all different kind of reasons just not anything to do with what you believe they buy things.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 11:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Technical term:

    Shopping for psychological stress relief or stimulation of brain pleasure centers.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 11:50pm

    Re: Re: Nothing new here...

    He absolutely did not give control back to phone manufacturers that was Android.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2011 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "They can lower prices and make it up in volume, yet they refuse to do it because they want to maximize the profit margins "

    Sorry, that just isn't how it works out. The upside of volume is very limited. It almost becomes a bit of a pyramid scheme when you look at it, the numbers quickly expand to "all of the population" as they try to find enough volume to make up for lost income.

    There is a sweet spot. It's one of the reasons PPV programs for things like wrestling and UFC are priced as they are. Yes, they could lower the price to get some more viewers, but a 50% price cut doesn't net them even the same amount of income. Net, it's even worse. It's the nature of the game.

    It is incredibly simplistic to say "lower the price, make more sales", but you have to look at the totals at the end. 50% pay cut, 50% more sales, still leaves you down by 25% or more gross, and probably closer to 50% net (because the cost per unit remains the same). Low margins and high volumes only work well on repeat business, and a single movie is NOT going to get massive repeat business. They aren't selling coca-cola, they are selling what for most is a one time experience, nothing more.

    What the consumer wants now is everything for next to nothing, they want it now, and they want it in every format under the sun, delivered fast, wirelessly, without drm, and without restictions of any sort. They want to give it away to their friends after, they want to make 10 copies, and most importantly, they want it all for a price that is laughable.

    If the movie industry did what consumers wanted, they would be out of business in a week.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 12:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There is no good reason that is why people have been complaining for ages of how people are so stupid to buy what they don't really need.

    Of course you don't understand the wants and needs of the human mind even though you are owner of one.

    Is like not being self aware you are not capable of being aware of why people do the things they do, you don't understand their motivations.

    Like yourself you believe that bottled water is something important and you will pay for it when you can get the same water out of any tap in America, but you pay more for tap water from Coca-Cola they truly are masters of marketing, they could sell fridges to an igloo dweller.

     

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  26.  
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    Greevar (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 12:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's just water. It's not special. Just tap water. If it says "from municipal source" it's tap water.

     

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  27.  
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    Greevar (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 12:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're just making that all up. Not the least bit true. I can do it too: If you drop the price by 50%, you'll get a 500% increase in sales, resulting in 250% increase in profit. They set the price where they do because the others in their cartel do the same, not because it's the "sweet spot" in pricing.

    "They aren't selling coca-cola"

    They sure aren't! Coke has fixed costs for each unit they ship. Movies don't have that problem. You can distribute them online for an almost non-existent cost since the theater is where they typically make back their money on production. The home video release has a very tiny fixed cost and the rest is mostly profit.

    "They want to give it away to their friends after, they want to make 10 copies, and most importantly, they want it all for a price that is laughable."

    Gee, it sounds like somebody isn't reading the writing on the wall. They can, they will, and they do all of that. They do it because the price is arbitrary and excessive for the video. It's also pretty damn easy to do.

    "If the movie industry did what consumers wanted, they would be out of business in a week."

    Bullshit, if file sharing was capable of putting them out of business, it would have happened by now. You're just doom-saying the whole thing because you don't want to serve the customers, you want to serve yourself. The movie makers are the entitled people here. They take from the public domain, slap it together into a movie, and claim ownership while trying to sell it for larger profit margins than any other goods out there. They can lower a price some. The volume they get from lower prices will be better than trying to squeeze out all they can from their self-serving business model.

     

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  28.  
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    mike allen (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:22am

    Re:

    no please give up you have had your 15 minutes

     

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  29.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, it is a rush to the bottom, to make the lowest margins possible but to attract the most customers.

    It's called capitalism actually - feel free to suggest an alternative system.

    It isn't a model that exports well to any business that works on wants rather than needs.

    Look - you either have a capitalist economy or you don't. You can of course nationalise the entertainment industries and fund them out of taxation. Then everything would be free to the consumer. Is that what you are suggesting?

     

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  30.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 2:52am

    Re:

    even if it makes it easier to illegally get things

    The keyword here is "even". The point is that even where the activity (shoplifting) is clearly illegal and causes a real loss to the shop - it is still good sense for the shop to priortize the customer's convenience.

    How much more sensible is it to do the same when the loss isn't clear and the legal/moral aspects are also less certain.

     

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  31.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 3:11am

    Re: copyright

    "I would like to make that into a bumper sticker."

    How about a poster or a coffee mug? (http://www.despair.com/changediaper.html)

     

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  32.  
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    The eejit (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 3:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The Mannconomy laughs at your logic.

     

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  33.  
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    Jay (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Saxton Hale should come and give this guy a kick in the mutton chops.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Ron, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Nothing new here...

    "He absolutely did not give control back to phone manufacturers that was Android."

    Seriosly?

    Before iPhone, the carriers would decide the feature set of phones - bluetooth, camera etc. When Apple was making the iPhone it tried to negotiate with Verizon and told them it wanted complete control - Verizon rejected it. AT&T went along with it but they also wanted some kind of exclusive deal which Apple had to agree too. Once the iPhone was a huge success, Verizon and Sprint came crawling to Google for a deal removing the right to decide the feature set. (Though they still get to add crap software on to the Android phones.)

    This has been discussed on various tech news sites for the last 4 years.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "By definition, wanting to consume something that is for sale constitutes a "reason to buy"."

    I'll sell you the oxygen that you're breathing. Now pay up since you have a reason to buy it.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "But if something for sale can be obtained for free, there isn't really a good reason to plop down money for it, is there? That's essentially charity then."

    Just because something is for sale doesn't mean it ought to cost money.

     

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  37.  
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    Greevar (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, they would love a compulsory payment system where people pay whether they use it or not. Then they wouldn't have to produce quality, they just have to show up to work and push some piece of crap out the door (sounds like the movie industry right now). They wouldn't have to compete, just collect the check and laugh all the way home.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    First off, the number of consumers is not unlimited. Your numbers might be better on something selling 100 units, and a drop in price helps it sell 1000 units. But if you are already selling twenty million plus movie tickets, and retail selling or renting another 1 million times, exactly how much more market are you expecting? There aren't 100 million people out there who just didn't buy because of price, that is a simple minded thought process.

    It's why it is always important to remember what works for the little guy doesn't work for the big guy.

    " if file sharing was capable of putting them out of business, it would have happened by now"

    Actually, in the case of the music industry, it almost has. Stick around for a few more years, with more and more sharing, and it is likely that there will be nobody left actually buying music. Ding, end of the music industry. The movie industry is just 5-8 years behind, internet speed is rising fast enough to make pirating a "reasonable" alternative.

    What does the public want then, that they can do at a price that makes sense and doesn't require 50% of the market to buy?

     

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  39.  
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    JMT (profile), Oct 31st, 2011 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "By definition, wanting to consume something that is for sale constitutes a "reason to buy"."

    Correct, but it's not necessarily sufficient reason to buy. Way to miss the point on that one.

    "But if something for sale can be obtained for free, there isn't really a good reason to plop down money for it, is there?"

    Of course there is. There are many reasons to pay for something instead of going for the free version. Usually they involve the paid version being better than the free version.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Greevar (profile), Nov 1st, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "First off, the number of consumers is not unlimited."

    Who said it was?

    "But if you are already selling twenty million plus movie tickets, and retail selling or renting another 1 million times, exactly how much more market are you expecting?"

    This is completely false. You're assuming that you've already sold as many tickets as there are customers. That's just wrong. Furthermore, you're making a false comparison. Tickets are proof of sale of a seat. Seats are limited. We're talking about digital goods, something you can't run out of.

    "Actually, in the case of the music industry, it almost has."

    That's totally false. The music industry is doing fine. It's the publishers that are tanking because they're becoming an obsolete, vestigial service for artists.

    "Stick around for a few more years, with more and more sharing, and it is likely that there will be nobody left actually buying music."

    Also false and dishonest too. Artists don't need to sell songs to make a living, they sell performances and other limited goods/services. There will always be people buying music, just not in the narrow path your convergent thinking is stuck on.

    "What does the public want then, that they can do at a price that makes sense and doesn't require 50% of the market to buy?"

    I don't know what you're talking about, but if you're asking what the solution is, it's already here. The recording industry just isn't part of it.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Caveman, Nov 1st, 2011 @ 8:20pm

    Re: copyright

    That's already been on bumper stickers for many years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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