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Are we at the end of the era of paid media/ software?

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SPL Tech

Nov 28, 2006
I am curious if we are approaching a period where charging users money for digital media or software is a dying industry. Honestly, at this point in technology, it's extremely easy to get any media you want for free. Music, movies, TV, games, software, ect. I am not talking about pirating either (although that's obviously one way some people do it), there are plenty of legal ways to obtain a lot of that stuff for free or very little money (e.g. Youtube to MP3, Groveshark, Netflix, ect. ect.). Even Microsoft seems to be accepting this idea based on the fact that they are giving out their single largest product, Windows 10, for free to anyone. Hell, you dont even need to have Windows on your machine, you can still get a copy of W10 for free. It seems like this whole pay $1.99 per song on iTunes or $4.99 per movie on Hulu is a dead business (not to mention buying CDs is a way, way dead business). The digital medium is a free medium now and it seems to be funded by advertising and selling your personal information.
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Mar 7, 2008
Content creators will need income to continue to exist. The form that is in can change, and I don't think there is a single right way for them to do that. It is a difficult one, and we still see it evolving around us.

Right now I'm trying out the unlimited music on Goggle. I'm in free trial but there would be a monthly fee if I wish to continue. I've listened to more music than I have done in a long time while I try to find new stuff I like, but there is an awful lot I don't like too, and their library is far from complete especially once you get out of the English language content. Also I can listen to old stuff I never got around to buying. Roughly speaking, the value proposition is do I listen to enough new stuff equivalent to an album a month? Which is what it would cost to buy stuff outright. Having almost anything available (with some exceptions) all the time is powerful, but will I realise enough value from that? Could I not just play things on youtube as a one off? I haven't decided yet.

It is a similar situation with video. I buy very few DVDs now, but I'm also not on any streaming service. I don't have enough hours in the day to consume it. Music you can listen to while doing other things, but you can't effectively half-watch a film. Having said that, I did try Amazon Prime trial before although there wasn't a huge amount I wanted to see on it. Maybe once Clarkson/Hammond/May's new show is done I'll give it another go.

Above aside, as a consumer I want easy to access content to effectively consume it, and I don't want intrusive interruptions. There is an ongoing battle between advertising and adblocking and it will be interesting to see where that goes. I'm not anti-ads in general, but there are still too many bad ads. Pop ups, pop unders, full screen ads, pre-roll video ads, autoplay video ads, repetitive ads, ads pretending to be something else... I could do without those. Is it really a win for the service being advertised if they're tricked into getting those impressions? Take away the ads and we're left with subscription models. I think we have to wait and see how that balances out. What is advertising worth, compared to what people would pay to go ad free?

I feel the major players over-value their content as a whole. They seem to think of consumers as having limitless pockets. We don't. We have finite time and cash. We can't spend more just because they produce more. And this entertainment is split over multiple areas, music, video, gaming... if we spend more in one area, we would likely spend less in another.

On gaming, who else looks at mobile freemium games and wonder where we're going? You can easily spend more on mobile game extras than you do for top tier PC games. And for multi-player games, it is hard for them to avoid pay-to-win. Advertising is also a problem here. I've seen some games with great potential, which were rendered unplayable due to intrusive advertising.

Specifically no Windows 10, how free it is is questionable. It only applies to those who have a licence anyway, so at worst they lose the upgrade fee, not the buy it new fee. If there is a legit way to get Win10 on a no-OS system I'd be interested to know about it. MS is likely banking on getting as many people up to a common platform to extract value going forwards.

caddi daddi

Godzilla to ant hills
Jan 10, 2012
if you look at how winten is going, it looks like it's going to a monthly fee basis.
ms is taking total control of you with it, all the way to removing programs from your machine weather you like it or not.


Senior Member
Dec 27, 2008
The internet infra structure still needs attention before we can move to a totally cloud-based model of software delivery and content access. There are still a lot of small communities and rural areas that don't have anywhere near good internet bandwidth.


New Member
Dec 4, 2011
Satan's Colon, US
Just like vinyl albums were declared deceased. CDs are still readily available , and my CD player would cost thousands to replace with a music server of equal sound quality. I burn my own CDs from music files specifically for that reason.

There are still a lot of small communities and rural areas that don't have anywhere near good internet bandwidth.

I live in a small community in a major US city that doesn't have broadband.


Benching Team Leader
Jan 2, 2005
Actually I see it like all has its price now. If you get something for "free" then you have to watch commercials or anything similar. Services like netflix etc are not free. Music or movies are not free too. You just can "rent" some of them for free. You pay for everything. In everything is some kind of lower or higher price.
Many free services ( usually trial accounts ) are convincing users to pay for premium account or something like that. Since price is usually not so high then many users pay for that.

If you want high quality movies or audio then in most cases you have to pay for that. Most stuff in the web is usually compressed. Services like iTunes are delivering only standard quality files while you pay like for something special.

Simply when it's called free then something is causing that provider decided to make it free. In real all are looking for profit so there are no things for free if you expect something good.