I ran into two interesting concepts today. The first one was called Loss Leaders. For example Microsoft Internet Explorer is a loss leader, which is being given away at a huge loss, just so that Microsoft can keep some tabs on the direction and future of the Web (which is not the internet). Another example would be all these Google or Yahoo! betas, which don't make money by themselves - but build a sort of customer relationship (euphemism for lock in).
The other concept was the Trial Balloon, in connection with the announcement of the PlayOnce DVD. Slashdot is being used as a thermometer in a bath, both by lots of people these days. Especially to measure blogger opinionations about a particular topic. Seems to work really nicely along with plausible deniability - Google browser is an excellent example :)--
Always two there are, no more, no less: a master and an apprentice