Surfers all looking for a free lunch

When 'e' equals 'free'...

When 'e' equals 'free'...

When it comes to internet content, it looks like everybody is looking for a free lunch - analysts predict few of us will put our hands in our pockets to pay for what we consume.

By 2011, according to industry watchers Jupiter Research, audiences for paid-for content and services will be in the minority, with just 14 per cent of surfers continuing to shell out.

The blossoming of 'free' services will be driven by a desire to reach cash-shy younger users as well as an attempt to charm those who have been put off by "the realities" of premium content such as DRM.

Ad-funded free content is already starting to make its way onto mobiles. Vodafone has trialled the concept with free games for those who accept ads, while April saw the launch of MVNO Blyk which gives free calls.

A new report from the researchers predicts revenues for content and services will continue to grow nevertheless, reaching €6.8bn by 2011.

Music and games will be the content money-spinners, according to the report, generating €1.4bn and €1bn respectively, while security and safety will lead services by earning €1.3bn.