My head is spinning this morning having just read David Carr’s smart column in the New York Times which lead me to ponder the future of online content. He so right when he implies we will all be paying subscription fees for our online content soon. Good newspapers are paid for — compared to bad newspapers, which are free – because advertising alone can’t keep them afloat. And it’s not just the paper that adds to cost though that is a factor. It is the news gathering and editorial infrastructure. The science and the art requires a premium.
And then I read about AOL and started to realize what is killing them is not only their lack of focus and “master of none” strategy but horrid usability. Usability is the driver of online business. (I worked for company that didn’t no shizz about usability and we failed quickly.) AOL’s email, browser, and portal business had to be free –it was so poorly designed no one would pay for it. Rather than fix what was broken, AOL decided to go commando. Free.
Venture money often screws up internet businesses by keeping them afloat while management tries to figure out “the model.” Are you listening Mr. Zuckerberg?
Carr’s right, the model is subscription. Make something people are willing to pay for and you have a business. There. My head stopped spinning. Peace!