Sunday, 11 March 2012


Is there anything really free? Free without a charge. Every time when I come across this question, only thing that usually comes to my mind is 'Air'. Just get out of the house or open the window and that's it. At least it appears to be Free. But actually I see some some hidden costs here as well. The cost is paid by the lungs in the form of its effort to inhale and exhale air. And in order to continue use this Free air we should maintain a healthy lungs which again has some costs involved directly or indirectly. So the air may be free out there, but to use it, we do actually spend something.

So when something is given away for free, there are always some hidden costs involved and somebody is actually paying for it. Like 'Air' the cost here might not necessarily be monetary, i.e the exchange is not based on paper money directly. Say for example, there are companies that provide freebies when somebody takes a survey. In this case, the survey data and the time spent replaces paper money. This is also the case for the promotions like 'Buy something and Get something Free'. The price is paid from the cost of advertising the product or might help to clear the stock and paid from the inventory cost. So here again the price is not directly paid by the consumers.

Similarly when freebies are distributed like this and this there are definitely some hidden costs involved. The manufacturing cost of the product, the cost to purchase the product, warehouse costs to store the product and then there is this entire cost of distribution from the warehouse to the end user. At each of these stages there is a cost involved and 'somebody' is actually paying for it, for money in itself isn't free. This 'somebody' might be taxpayers, rent providers, charity etc... Whoever or whatever may be the source, somebody is paying for it and it is definitely not free.

So rather than promoting them as freebies, it should be mentioned who is actually paying for it. When somebody donates to charity or sponsors a program, the donor is often mentioned and thanked for their deed. Likewise these freebies or subsidies should also mention the source and who is paying for it (like 'Taxpayer's money is used for so and so cause', 'The charity money from so and so is used for this cause'), rather than promoting them as freebies, for they are not actually free. Moreover this might also create some awareness among the people about the actual source of the 'freebie' and to be more prudent of its consumption.

The mere use of the term 'Free' gives the liberty to consume carelessly.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Looks like there is finally some reliable site to buy legal music online in India.

Flipkart with its new Flyte Digital Store is providing this new feature in addition to their other online services. The collection is still limited for Tamil, not able to find some of the latest ones, but there are some good old songs in the list. Not sure about the other languages though. This is probably because the service itself is relatively new for the Indian market and moreover they might be still straightening out copyright issues.

Good thing is the user has the option to buy single tracks instead of the complete album. The price is about Rs 6 per song, might be a bit higher for new releases. Also I liked their wallet option to make a purchase. Didn't remember seeing this option while buying books. Not sure if this is applicable only for digital downloads. Wallet allows the customer to top up using a Debit/Credit card or using net-banking. Once the wallet is topped up, songs can be purchased with just a click.

The tracks can also be purchased by the usual payment methods instead of using a Wallet. Before purchase the user has an option to listen to a part of the track as well. The track is downloaded using a download manager similar to Amazon. A mail receipt is received indicating the purchase and provides an option to re-download the song again. Not sure how long this link is valid though.

The song quality was good. Only thing that I observed was that the artist details were incorrect. Also while downloading from the manager, the track had a different title from the one I had purchased, glad that it was just an incorrect title and not the song itself. It will be good if Flipkart can take care of these usability issues.

Flyte is definitely a welcome approach to the Indian online market and adding more collections might attract more users. But only time can tell if Flyte can really survive the online piracy.