The Economist vs. Chris Anderson: Er der en forretningsmodel i at give indhold væk online?

19. marts udgav The Economist lederen “The end of the free lunch—again, hvor man gør status på de mange services på internettet anno 2009.

Argumentet i lederen er, at ligesom ved dotcom-boblen har vi i de seneste år været igennem en periode, hvor folkene bag diverse internettjenester atter har genvundet troen på, at man kan give sine ting væk på nettet for så at tjene penge på de mange brugere senere, fx via annoncer.

Men den holder ikke, argumenteres der i lederen:

Ultimately, though, every business needs revenues—and advertising, it transpires, is not going to provide enough. Free content and services were a beguiling idea. But the lesson of two internet bubbles is that somebody somewhere is going to have to pick up the tab for lunch.

Det er Chris Andersen, der er chefredaktør på teknologimagasinet Wired, uenig i. I løbet af i år udkommer hans bog “Free” (læs forløber-artiklen for bogen), som netop argumenter for, at der er en forretningsmodel i at give sine ting væk.

I et indlæg på sin Long Tail-blog med titlen “My Letter to the Economist” argumenterer han for sin sag:

First, where is your evidence that online advertising is a failing model? To be sure, the crisis has dramatically slowed its growth (like that of every other industry) but unlike most others, it’s still positive. The worst forecasts for the year that I’ve seen predict that it may drop by a few percent from last year’s record figure. That’s a lot better than the offline advertising market and hardly supports your hyperbolic claim that “the demise of a popular but unsustainable business model now seems inevitable.”

Second, there is more to free business models online than advertising. The big shift since the crisis has been the rise of “freemium” (free+premium) models, where products and services are offered in free basic and paid premium versions. Think Flickr and Flicker Pro (more storage), virtually all online games and even your own site (some free and some paid content).

Jeg synes, personligt, at både The Economist og hr. Anderson har gode pointer, og hvad enten man er enig med den ene eller den anden, eller blot interesseret i forretningsmodeller på nettet, bør man læse begge to.

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