Two-fifths good, three-fifths bad: Doublespeak, Radiohead, and Statistics

In October 2007, Radiohead released their latest album as a free digital download, giving consumers the choice to send money for it (i.e. they don’t have to, but they can if they want).

A month later, the news reports are negative: three out of five people did not pay for the album.

Wait a minute! I’d say this is good news. A free product was made available to people, and two out of five decided to pay for it anyway!

Compare this to Wikipedia, which claims on their web site that 19,163 people have donated to their cause. Considering they have 5,775,882 registered users and are, according to Alexa, the eighth most popular web site in the world, responsible for 8% of the world’s web traffic.

When 38% pay for a Radiohead album and one in 300 registered users (or an estimated in 6,000 total visitors) pay for Wikipedia, I’d say Radiohead is the clear winner.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. I still say Radiohead’s experiment shows that it has potential as a viable business model.