Monday, September 7, 2009

"If it's digital. . .it's going to be free."

An opinion is brewing just under the surface in the minds of millions of American students and parents, a.k.a. consumers of higher education: the current price of a college degree is no longer worth that set price. I predict that within ten years, tuition prices will be driven down drastically, as consumers choose other (many digital) options.

Thanks to Chris Anderson, here is a quote from his new book (see right and below):
"If it's digital, sooner or later it's going to be free." - one of his "free rules" that I believe we can now apply to higher education. So start today, by refusing to pay the exorbitant prices for current college tuition and fees. Why? Because equal quality offerings exist online today, and the market is pushing those prices ever downward online.

Anderson says, "In a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. The Internet is the most competitive market the world has ever seen." Free is "not just an option but an inevitability. . .so psychologically attractive that marketers will always find ways to invoke it by redefining their business to make some things free while selling others. . .In the digital realm, you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win."

Anderson's Free: The Future of a Radical Price is a dense, well-written 256 pages that will especially appeal to those interested in economics. His anecdotes and graphs increase the readability of heady subject matter. And it is available, of course, for free, online (see below).

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