Here is the major quote from this excellent Fast Company article:
If a product on the market can be monetized by any means other than directly selling it, a comparable version of that product will eventually be offered for free.
The "freemium" business model--free services as a gateway to monetization--is showing up in many places. WiFi, which was a pay-to-use service in its earliest iteration, is classic. You still pay in some situations, like on board an airplane, and in some hotels and most airports. But Starbucks and thousands of other businesses deliver the internet for free as an incentive to spend money in other ways.
I'm in the process of learning more about the future of technology research. In the interviews with former leaders and insiders of the classic paid research model (Gartner, Forrester, IDC, etc.) one trend is emerging. Those paid models are about to face a threat from social means of business research, and from the idea of giving away research findings in the hope of earning money from paid consulting work. Infrics.com is based on that model; everything on the site is free, there are no subscription or access fees. As the writer and owner of the site, I hope you'll like what you read well enough to hire me to assist your company or team with emerging technology strategy. Look for the article on new research business models soon. It will include resources to lower your own research costs while getting better advice and insights.
How much longer will the big research company model hold up? Is it in danger of being "freemiumed" to death, or will the big companies be disintermediated into irrelevancy? What do you think?