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A subscription-based business model. The seller provides a product that requires regular maintenance and the buyer pays for a periodic subscription to receive said regular maintenance.

The addiction comes from the feeling of euphoria the buyer gets after receiving an update. Most used by anti-virus companies, an update offers feelings of contentment and security in the belief that the buyer's computer is safe from viruses. The high eventually wears off, however, as new variants of viruses appear, and the buyer must obtain another update. This exploits another aspect of addiction: The buyer is not in control.

This business model is unique to the information technology industry. While real world similarities exist, such as extended warranty, warranty subscriptions eventually expire permanently. An addictive update model subscription is theoretically perpetual, provided the buyer continues to subscribe.

Microsoft exploits the addictive update model in a limited fashion with Windows Update, as its users also experience a feeling of euphoria after installing updates for their Microsoft Windows operating system. Even when compared to anti-virus products, however, the euphoria and the addiction it causes is still present. The minor difference is these updates address generic types of threats (as opposed to multiple variants of a threat) and do not require an additional paid subscription.

IT Media plays a critical role in the development of the addictive update model. ZDNET provides a clear example in a sidebar to an anti-virus article published in October 1999 and quoted here:1

Ways to protect against a virus

  • Install anti-virus software at the Internet gateway, on servers and on clients.
  • Update virus defenitions daily. A year ago, it would have been monthly.
  • Don't disable DLL checks in anti-virus software. Disabling such checks may increase performance, but it negates some of the benefits of anti-virus software.
  • Establish stringent policies about using executables.
  • Ban the downloading of online holiday greeting cards.

Ironically, this sidebar appeared beside an article describing how better anti-virus technology existed at the time.

  1. http://vmyths.com/rant.cfm?id=61&page=4

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