Friday, August 14, 2009

Gain Market Share & Early Adopters of Technology by Being Free

Students at universities all across the country have been complaining that their inboxes are too small for the tsunami of emails that they receive on a daily basis. As a result, many universities have been outsourcing email services to companies such as Google and Microsoft. Most entrepreneurs and businesses would see a profitable business opportunity to charge at least small fee for such services to universities, just as several already do for companies. The interesting thing is that Google and Microsoft charge nothing to the universities for email services.

Universities benefit in cost savings by avoiding costly equipment upgrades/maintenance and number of employees managing information technology services. Also students' satisfaction with a university's outsourced technology services, in this case email, dramatically increased.

So what's in it for Google and Microsoft? College students are generally early adopters of new technology. The idea is to gain the participation and feedback of students for other web services, beyond email, being developed and deployed by Google and Microsoft. The hope is to gain early acceptance and adoption for those products/services and have them become mainstream. This approach doesn't only apply to companies following a Web 2.0 model. Chris Anderson talks about such strategies leveraged by cutting edge companies in his book, "Free: The Future of a Radical Price." a new idea? Desire early and free feedback to perfect your product or service? Want to quickly gain market share? Then consider rushing out to offer it for free to the students of your nearest university before your competitors do. Come to think of it, didn't Facebook start off as a college social networking site?

Want to know more? Click here to read the Time news article on free web services for students at universities.

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