Effective income equality, ad-supported business models

UK households with the lowest income faced the fastest cost of living rise in the past 11 years, figures show.

The rising cost of domestic gas and electricity was one suggested reason for the trend.

Households without children and retirees also experienced faster price increases in their typical basket of goods, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The ONS analysed inflation rates for different households from 2003 to 2014.

Those who spent the most money saw the lowest level of inflation, the ONS concluded.

This could be explained, in part, by prices of package holidays and education barely rising over recent years.

Full article here. It's not just absolute but effective income inequality that is seeming to rise.

Among some sizable number of people I follow on Twitter, ad-supported products and services in tech are seen as evil. ”You get what you pay for!“ and “If you're not paying, you are the product” and variants thereof are common dismissals or denunciations of any ad-supported product.

They lament the proliferation of free apps in mobile app stores, turn their noses up at Facebook, lament the ad-free days of Twitter. Look at anyone who writes such things and a few things become clear. They're almost always fairly well-off (middle to upper middle class on up) and so spending a few extra bucks is no big deal to them. Also, they almost always generalize off of one egregious example.

Ad-supported business models have enabled many people without the financial means otherwise to access many products and services. You may not think it's that important for someone who's poor to access Instagram without paying, but that's a very privileged stance, one that ignores how many people in other countries use such services.

Many businesses can only achieve the scale necessary to be useful with a free, ad-supported business model. Facebook is just one example. Sure, it means that many companies that set off in that direction will fail—scale businesses require, well, massive scale—but a high extinction rate for those who attempt to build a scale business is to be expected.

Finally, it's hardly clear that either a pay or ad-supported business is more friendly to customers. Derek Powazek had a great post on this a few years ago.

I don't mind paying for services I love. For example, I'm strongly anti-piracy when it comes to people who can afford the things they pirate, no matter what reasons they come up with to justify their behavior.

I'm happy, though, that the things I enjoy come in a mix of pay and ad-supported models. As I've noted before, I just hope ad-supported businesses embrace the natural evolution to native ad units more and more in 2015, especially all the old media sites I enjoy but whose user experiences are being destroyed by their advertising unit selection.

I don't now how I got from an article on income inequality to a discussion of ad-supported business models, but all my New Year's Eve alcohol consumption seems to have connected some strange regions of my brain this morning.