Farhad Manjoo, writing for the New York Times:
“Mr. Cook is fond of arguing that “when an online service is free, you’re not the customer; you’re the product.” That view is simplistic because it overlooks the economic logic of these services, especially the idea that many of them would never work without a business model like advertising. Services like social networks and search engines get substantially better as more people use them — which means that the more they cost to users, the worse they are. They work best when they’re free, and the best way to make them free is to pay for them with another business that depends on scale — and advertising is among the best such businesses.”
Good article. I also recommend “Privacy vs. User Experience” by Dustin Curtis.