18 November 2008

More Analyst Cluelessness

Yesterday in "the other place" I was berating Gartner for its inability to understand the reality of open source, and now here's someone else from that strange world of "research" that simply doesn't understand the basics - in this case, digital music:

Music cannot just be 'for free' anymore than cars or houses can 'just be for free'. If people aren't paid, they don't make the product.

Sigh. Once more, then, children - and do pay attention at the back: music is digital, cars and houses are analogue. You can make copies of digital music for effectively zero cost (it exists, but it's too small to measure); you cannot easily make copies of cars or houses, and certainly not for vanishingly small cost.

As for the second part, ever heard of something called free software? Variously estimated as worth tens of billions of pounds, most of it is created by people who aren't paid. And even if they are, that's not a necessary pre-condition for its creation, simply a reflection of the health of the business ecosystem that has grown up around it. If there weren't people who got paid, free software would stil exist - as it did originally.

Similarly for Wikipedia: nobody gets paid, but look at the results. In just a few years it has succeeded in creating an unmatched respository of human knowledge, to the point where it is pretty widely regarded as the first place to look stuff up, despite its undeniable imperfections.

As with Gartner, this seems to be a case of analysts simply telling their clients what they want to hear, rather than what they need to know. Hence my general contempt for the breed, with a few honourable exceptions - RedMonk and the 451 Group spring to mind - that both know what they are talking about, and tell it as it is.


Anonymous said...

The case of free music also draws attention another fallacy nested within that extract – that free necessarily equals unpaid. Just as many people make a living supporting free software, many musicians give away their music for free in order to promote their live shows for which they are often paid handsomely.

Unlimited copying has seen us move from a situation where the most valuable creative activities were those which could be most readily consolidated into copyrighted, saleable works, to one in which value stems from the facility with which creative activities can be translated into non-digital goods – gigs, software support, speaking tours, merchandising. It's arguable which is better for the creator - it depends which creator you're talking about - but the unlocking of intellectual 'property' seems to offer great benefits for the consumer of culture, which is all of us at some point.

Glyn Moody said...

Nicely put.

Anonymous said...

Have just posted my response to Robert Andrew's outrageous suggestions at the end of the post in question.


Glyn Moody said...

Great stuff: we can't leave these ridiculous assertions unchallenged.

Unknown said...

@ Glyn Moody: Great post

@ Roger Lancefield: Way to make your point. Couldn't have put it better myself.

Glyn Moody said...

@Balakrishnan: thanks.