Wired articles...free and signals

As I’m sure most of you do, I have a subscription to Wired magazine and every time I receive it I ask myself the same question… why am I reading this junk? Full of advertisements and non sense articles (that purposely are hard to distinguish from advertisements themselves)…. My answer comes when a smart/insightful article or idea gets sprinkled once in a while and for less than 10 dollars a year, well, I think is bearable.

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, because there are two articles worth reading in the last issue of the magazine... "Free" by Chris Anderson which talks about the strategy that many companies have been following for years (give products away for "free" and up-sell, cross-sell or subsidize on the side) and an article about 37Signals and the way they develop software; interesting stuff. Both articles have spurred lots of comments everywhere (here and here are some samples that a colleague at Microsoft brought to my attention). My takeaways:

- About “Free”: Eventually every product (software specially) on the planet will have a “free” SKU. Yesterday while playing Guitar Hero 3, for the first time, I noticed a Comcast advertisement on the background of the game!!! I felt like asking for the money I paid for the game back… it should have been free!! Those guys are/will make a lot more money from advertisements on their games that from the fee they charge for the media.

- About the 37signals article and their responses on the net… there are plenty of opinions out there and I’m not going to get into controversy. However, there are a couple of key phrases in the 37signals blog that I personally feel sympathetic with and believe all software companies should pay attention to…

o “We listen to customers but we also listen to our own guts and hearts. We believe great companies don’t blindly follow customers; they blaze a path for them …That’s why it’s our job to be editors. To be software feature curators. To pick out the ideas that will benefit the most people and disappoint the least people. And sometimes that means doing nothing at all