Thursday, April 13, 2006

Piracy sells

(via Furdlog) Two articles in the LA Times (here and here) help to further the case that piracy does not always translate into lost sales, it may very well end up in opening new markets and new customers.

The first case, and perhaps the most documented, is that of Microsoft. While the software industry spends millions of pounds every year fighting piracy, it is recognised that early widespread illegal copying helped Microsoft lock-in the software market, particularly with Windows and MS Office. This early advantage helped them to get ahead of the competition. Similarly, widespread piracy of MS products in developing countries have stopped the adoption of other operating systems, particularly free and open source software. Bill Gates commented in 1998:

"Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. And as long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."
The other case of "good" piracy is YouTube, the amazing phenomenon where people share all sorts of videos. Most of the content comes legally, but there are also streams from TV. Although a lot of the infringing content gets taken down, TV and movie executives are wondering if this is free advertisement for the young and hip techno-elite.

1 comment:

kieran said...

It's not related to this post, but you may be interested to know that a stupid patent has single-handedly crippled Internet Explorer's handling of external applications.

You now have to click any embedded external application in order to interact with it. So if you want to lower the volume on a windows media clip, you have to click it first. Flash-based sites are unusable. And this is implemented by default in IE7 beta, and will be piped into earlier versions via windows update.

Google around for Eolas and microsoft if you're interested.