Getting something for free in the physical world has never been a simple pursuit.
Unless you're extremely lucky, most of what's on offer is a lot of discarded and well-used objects, often with hidden flaws for you to discover once you're in too deep. In the world of online systems and software, however, the concept of freedom is different. Without physical goods to move around, or related costs, free can mean much more. Having existed since the early days of the internet, free offers have continued to evolve, and this trajectory has been an interesting one to follow.
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Modern Free Offers
Before turning back the clock, it's worth investigating the state of modern online free giveaways, and how they work. As a basis, many of these newer offers work from a foundation of lower overall business costs. This happens in the online world because modern digital systems require far less overhead than their physical counterparts, and they tend to adapt much better to economies of scale.
For an illustration of this idea, consider the landscape of online casinos. One popular modern offer is how players can claim one free daily spin on Paddy Power. This bonus wheel allows prizes like cash bonuses and free bets in selected games. The lower costs associated with making an offer like this possible could be seen in how the website's games operate. Slots, for example, require a lot of room and energy in a physical casino. In an online casino, it’s possible to include hundreds of slots where these concerns are relatively non-existent.
The Journey to Get Here
Though the basis of free giveaways in the online world was built on the same foundation of lower costs to the giver, their original state was much more limited in scope. Arguably the first mainstream example, as explored by National Today, was the concept of shareware. This is a system where part of a program is given away for free, where a user can pay to fully unlock every feature.
The first of these was PC-Write, a word-processing tool released by Bob Wallace in 1983. A more modern example could be found in WinRAR, the famous file compression tool. In this instance, the only thing locked behind a paywall is the reminder to purchase, which as The Stock Dock explains, is usually explored by businesses instead of individuals.
Over time, free offers would tend more towards the casino route, as an expression of a company’s or industry’s online performance. Though there was a time when giveaways were also tied closely to the rapid expansion of the entire online ecosystem, as made famous in the dotcom boom, this form hasn't persisted.
The most central factor behind the expansion of free offerings in the online world is one concept: efficiency. With fewer costs as allowed through reduced overhead, it’s easier for online businesses to offer what their offline contemporaries don’t.
While the implementation is left to the creativity of the business, the overall scope of online offerings will tend to be greater for this truth. While brick-and-mortar businesses might lament this development, for the customer's wallet, this new world is an undeniably positive one.