So the ning business is finally going to morph into a real business and stop allowing people to use their goodies without paying for them.
Wow, brings up a whole host of stuff when it comes to writing in the online world.
Is the sale of ad space really expected to power the entire forward progress of the whole world wide web? I don’t think so. Then again, if ning doesn’t give it away free first and foremost, do they grow into the company they now are? And if they now start to charge, how many nings fold up and think, “Well, it was good while it lasted”?
Is this what the next stage of the internet looks like? People give away items at no charge until they become apparently worth something, and then they start to charge for their services and people fold up their tents and drift off to the next latest and greatest thing. (You know, the one that people can use free of charge until enough people start using it to make these folks see “gold in dem dar hills” whereby the model changes to a fee based-structure… and everyone then flees again… and on and on and on?)
Jim Burke said… People need to wake up to the idea that they cannot expect companies to be non-profits. We have grown increasingly addicted to the idea that everything should be free, that we should have to pay for nothing. That is not sustainable.
Indeed. But as soon as Twitter starts charging me per tweet, I think I am gone.
And I think they know this… which is why they do not charge me for tweeting. Which is why so many millions of folks do tweet.
But charge even one dollar a month and, “Nah, I am not so sure it’s worth it” creeps into my consciousness. I mean there are so many other free things I can do on the web, with mobile technology and so on, that, on second thought, Nah, I just don’t think so.
The fact is, most human beings pretty much do not like paying for things that were once free. We feel ripped off. (Even if they are actually worth the money.)
If once upon a time you charged me, and you raised the price, then hey, I get that. But if was free and now you want money for it… that doesn’t really compute so well. I mean “I think I only wanted it because it was free anyway,” is what I tell myself. Then I move on.
And on the flip side, people tend to more highly value that which actually costs them more. Look at the diamond industry. DeBeers is absolutely brilliant in the way that they make us believe diamonds are precious stones worth X amount of dollars. And by controlling 85% of all the diamonds on the planet (they have vaults and vaults and vaults of them locked away so that they can manage world wide inventory and empower all these diamond dealers to say, “but they are rare and precious”) they create the illusion of high value – and the reality of high price – in the mind of buyers.
And we buy it.
Engagement rings, earrings, and so on. “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
Hook, line and sinker, we drank the Kool-Aid on that one.
But NY Times news? I think the cat is outta the bag on that one. Sure, some will buy it – older folks who grew up indoctrinated into the “fine journalism” being offered will stay the course. (They also have more disposable income.) But now, news and commentary are free… and if the NY Times wants to start charging for what they originally gave away online, heck, I’ll go to the Wash Post or L.A. Times or BBC and so on.
Heck, the Huffington Post will go out and scavenge the free news for me. And they are not alone.
And if they all decide to charge at the same time, they are gambling with their very existence… cause there is no guarantee to say enough people will pay to keep them afloat.
Are they willing to risk bankruptcy? Do they really want to know if they call our bluff and insist on charging us that we are actually going to pony up cash for their goods versus simply seeking another source for our news and bail out on them?
TIME magazine charges. Newsweek doesn’t. Is there enough of a difference that I buy TIME? Right now, not really.
The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety, Hollywood’s Trade Magazines, got it right. They charged for content right away (after giving away small teasers.) People were used to paying for print, they immediately got used to paying for online from the get-go and now, they more or less, seamlessly transitioned to the online journalism world.
Right now, newspapers don’t really have the guts to pull the “free” plug because they know if they do, we might not come back to them and prove them obsolete. (It’s any business’s darkest fear – to recognize that the world can get along just fine without them and have the world recognize that.
Of course, all of the newspapers are hoping Apple and the Kindle will help to save their butts… but ESPN.com does sports for me and the AP wire still provides news and Joe down the block blogs about the tree root situation plaguing the local sidewalks on my street and the idea of one-stop news shopping is something that is already dead to many of us anyway. (Like textbooks providing one-size-fits-all curriculum – that ship has SAILED!)
I get my news from 15 sources, not one and until all 15 charge, I can live with only 14.
So, I won’t get to read Friedman. But if enough people stop reading Friedman, he’s going to try and deliver content to his audience another way… or else he stops being Friedman and someone else’s voice will rise up to replace his. Books still make sense. (I want to read the writing of the folks I want to read: Stephanie Meyers, Stephen King, they could publish on toilet paper and people would read it by the roll.) Newspapers don’t. Magazines… they seem to be on an edge. Can’t call it one way or the other yet.
Ultimately, I am completely at a loss for how this will all work out but I do feel that it sure would be hard to get people to start paying for my blog now that I have been giving it away at no charge for a year and a half.
Most of them would probably say, “Hasta la Vista… it was good while it lasted but I am onto other things.”
Real businesses know customers value what they pay for much more than they value what is free.
Like the dot.com bubble, so is the Free bubble.
The book FREE proposed that free was the way of the business future – at least to get a foot in the door. Actually, I think the real way of the business future is to 1) provide something excellent and 2) charge for it right out of the gate.
People will always pay for quality and if you are giving it away at no charge, how much is it really worth anyway?
Nings seem to have blown it if they want to charge. Someone else is gonna fill their void if they do because most people will not pay for the same thing they used to get at no charge. They will pay for something new, better, enhanced and so on.
Nings aren’t proposing that. There is no Ning II that’s a platinum version they will be selling. Ning just wants money now… and I am not sure how many folks are gonna roll with that.
However, I would chip in a buck to keep this ning alive. And if we all did, maybe the ning folks would let us keep rolling, huh?