About the book

Penguin will publish The Curve under its Portfolio imprint in late 2013

Free is an inevitable price point online. It doesn’t have to be the only one.

Competitive pressure and the iron laws of technology and economics are driving prices to zero on the Internet. This is not just a problem for media businesses: as 3D printing becomes a reality over the next decade, traditional manufacturing businesses will suddenly be exposed to the copyright infringements and casual piracy that bedevil the entertainment industry.

On the one hand, businesses and creators are striving to hold back this tide. Using digital rights technology and formidable lobbying powers in attempts to change the law, they are fighting what they claim is a battle for their very survival.

On the other side, digital utopians argue that on the Internet content of all types wants to be free, with little concern for how it is financed in the first place.

There is another way. The Internet has transformed the business landscape by enabling direct relationships between companies and a vast, global audience. This is not just a distribution channel like any other. In the new environment, customers at one end of the curve are a marketing opportunity. Customers at the other end – a tiny percentage – are the revenue generators.

That tiny percentage can subsidise all the free users, and more, to build sustainable, profitable companies. There is a curve of demand that connects free users with high-spending users, the valuable freeloaders with the essential spenders.

If you don’t grasp the Curve, you will have no place in the 21st Century business landscape.