A common question every business asks itself regularly, and one with no answer without a detailed understanding of context.
Imagine you are in 1990, and someone asked you “how much would you pay for an internet search?” The only logical response is “a what?”
1990, there was no internet as we now know it, and little capacity to search the documents that were on the few networked computers of the time.
Fast forward to 2000, the same question would have brought an answer that gave the search value, as the net was around, but not everyone had access, or the know-how to search it effectively with the relatvively modest search engines of the time, so the quick assembly of the wide range of information that the few could gather had great value.
Fast forward again to 2010. Same question, different answer again, as almost everyone had the access and knowledge to do a comprehensive search, so the value is diminished because it is no longer a way of differentiating, delivering something unique.
This ebb and flow of value is common in almost any context you choose to examine, but we forget so easily that value is a relative term.