Freemium: could this be STM’s optimal business model?

fredwilsonNot everything on the internet ages as quickly as you may be led to believe. 

As subscription-based businesses brace themselves for the impact of the current economic turbulence, this post by Fred Wilson may be more relevant now than it was when it first posted in 2006 when the enduring value of all existing business models looked rather more assured than they may appear in 2009.

The post reviews the benefit of some of the then-leading ‘free for basic, pay for extras’ business models, which lead me to begin to consider ways in which STM publishers could adopt similar pathfinder strategies to promote elements of their existing content base.

Putting up a free article from a peer-review journal or a sample chapter from an ebook but continuing to debar access to the work in its entirety is of limited value in the web 2.0 / health 2.0 world, and could arguably do more harm than good. Erecting barriers to access may ‘protect’ content, but it can also have the unfortunate consequence of ensuring that potential users leave, and never come back.

Affording registered users access to content in its entirety on a low/zero-cost basis, whilst also providing them with the opportunity to purchase access to sufficiently tempting pay-for tools, user benefits and community privileges in order to enhance their user experience could be a way forward.

Collecting, collating and rendering anonymous user stats for commercial reuse or SEO could also add value.

Thanks to @Bart for the link.

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