For long I have pondered over why the Internet crashed back in 2000. And only one reason comes to mind: Free stuff.
Just too much of this was being peddled about then and at a time when none of the online entities could afford to do so. By no means am I suggesting that they can afford it now, but one would safely assume that it’s fiscally much better now than five years ago. But was it so bad?
Here’s some stats:

In 1999, there were 2,161 initial VC financings of start-ups, and 40 percent of those are still alive and kicking (private and independent), with only 32 percent out of business. Rounding out the rest, 3 percent are publicly held, and 25 percent acquired or merged. In 2000, there were 2,680 financings, and 47 percent are still alive and kicking, with 34 percent out of business, one percent publicly traded, and 18 percent acquired or merged. [Via] [Also this]

Compared with back then, it’s not so grim but my fear is that if this appetite for free stuff is whetted any further, the scenario cannot get much better. Look at Google… they made their money in the stock market and honestly may not need to have regular income for a long time anymore (of course, I’m exaggerating!). But (all of) what they offer is primarily free and with their kind of portfolio, there’s very little chance for any competition.
At the other end of this spectrum is Microsoft who charge for every little thing. For once, I might be inclined to to think that this, in the longer run, might be better for budding corporates and the user. Why?
Because Google is free, we can’t really ask (unless you are an investor) whether they really are collecting all the information people claim about. With MS, you can always demand an explanation. In Google’s case, because of the free stuff, all the ‘Beta’ versions they release are acceptable. For MS, they need to come out with a finished version sooner rather than later. But does this in any way mean that MS is helping the advancement of personal computing any more than Google? But then, they are both in different domains; somewhat!
Coming back to the point, my feeling is that if this continues (and it will) from the bigwigs, there’s no way the smaller guys can not do the same. In the bargain, and looking at Google’s overvalued stock, another bust could happen. When? I don’t know. If I did, I could make a lot of money off some stocks!


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