Saturday, 26 June 2010
It seems that the Economist magazine and now the (London) Times newspapers are charging for an increasing amount of online content. And fair enough too. It must cost a great deal to produce such publications. But I wonder at the business model. Far be it from me to question the mighty Rupert Murdoch, the man certainly knows business, but there are plenty of alternatives available online, most of which are free, gratis, for nothing and cost tipota (please excuse my attempt at Greek with the Roman alphabet Greek readers). Certainly he managed to turn a formerly free (by which I mean 'no fee') industry in to a fee paying one in Britain in the late 80s and early 90s with satellite television. He managed to do so by cornering the sports rights, most importantly the football of the Premiership, but the written word is a different media all together, a different 'ball game' as our American cousins might say.
The Economist has been free in its past and also pay to access, but its content is all together different. It's a weekly periodical, more highbrow, better written and serves a different purpose to the Times. And by changing back and forth between paid and free services I get the impression that they might have struggled with this model. Perhaps the traditional internet models of flash advertising are better. But the internet itself is such a game changer and no one can really tell. Who would have predicted Wikipedia ten years ago? Despite being biased occasionally, and less than authoritative in some area it remains a wonderful resource and a place I visit daily, just remembering the usual caveats that pertain to the internet as a whole. And look at those business that were slow to change their models. The producers of music and now films have had to take a long hard look at their industries, and the financing. It is not good enough in a digital age to enforce ancient business models rolling their product to different parts of the world at different times. Spotify, itunes and perhaps product placement will help them out.
I feel it's all going to be most interesting.
We can only watch an wait.