An article about the musician Prince reveals some very interesting lessons that apply across multiple products and multiple product categories. The highlight is the fact Prince arranged to give 3 million copies of his new album away in the U.K. through a distribution deal with The Mail on Sunday newspaper. You read that right. Prince gave away three million copies of his CD. His UK record label subsequently refused to distribute the disc.

What would it mean for you if a partner, competitor, or supplier decided to completely change the economics of your business? Could you withstand the impact of a competitor figuring out how to give away their product for free and make the revenue somewhere else? The Internet was supposed to kill the music business, but it really just changed distribution methods. Prince may have found a way to actually kill the music labels.

Consider the Apple iPhone and how it's quickly changed the consumer to mobile carrier relationship. The consumer can buy the phone at an AT&T or Apple store, then activate it at home. Anyone who's ever suffered through a 22 year-old clerk activating their phone knows how empowering it is to be able to control the entire process. Apple cracked open a door that may ultimately change the entire mobile phone ecosystem.

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