by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 21st 2008 8:57am
When I first heard about TrialPay, I thought it was a bit gimmicky. However, in reading through a NY Times article about the company, I'm realizing it's actually yet another example of how to use "free" in a business model. The service is mainly used by software providers (who, remember, are offering an infinite good, which will face pricing pressures towards a zero price). The software developers officially offer their software for a price, but then also offer it for free if you agree to buy someone else's product. For example, you can get free anti-virus software if you also agree to get a subscription to Netflix. Note what's happening here (and how it sounds familiar). Software providers are giving away their (infinite) product, but they're attaching it to the sale of a totally unrelated (scarce) good, and are then profiting from the referral fees associated with those other goods. In other words, even if not explicitly, they've realized that their software products act as a promotional good for those other products. What's most interesting here is that those scarce goods are totally unrelated to the software that's for sale, other than through TrialPay's service. Effectively, TrialPay has helped makers of infinite goods tie up their products with other scarce goods that people would have thought were unrelated. So, the next time someone insists that there can't be a scarce good attached to certain infinite goods, remember this example.
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