What would Jeff Jarvis do
A while ago I go a letter in my mailbox. An actual junk mail. An advertising company wanted me to join their advertising system. I even had plastic card with a code attached, which I could use on their web site to register. There were a few troubling things in this letter:
- The address used was not the SysNet public address, it was an address registered with the Israeli VAT offices only.
- There was no corporate contact information. No e-mail, phone or fax. The only return address was the one used with the post office for the return of undelivered mail.
- My attempt the contact the company and request information on how they acquired the said mail address was left an answered.
- Less then a fortnight later, the same company sent me an unsolicited e-mail to promote their premium services.
That company is Google.
I wonder if this is yes another move on Google's side away from what towards new business models. Maybe the advertising and freemium models are not as sustainable as previously assumed. Another possible explanation is the realization that with all the hype, Web 2.0 and social media is not as commonplace and powerful to be the only basis for maintaining the data behemoth. Even Jeff Jarvis chose the only school path for publishing his book....
What, if any, difference to the end user? I would suggest that this a small but significant warning for those who make assumptions based of freemium services, cloud based services and social networking. It does not mean that you should run away from those, but consider:
- Freemium services could disappear if the provider cannot sustain them. It does not mean that he service will not be available, but prices can go up significantly and without warning, with little or no notice.
- There is still a large market which is not Internet savvy, or is outside the scope of social networking. When (and if) this market will be accessible to the new entrepreneurs, is still an open question.
- The large "new media" juggernauts are still bound by "old economy" - namely making large pots of money for shareholders. This is done by manipulating the commodities and the resources - namely, the users.
- Communication with those companies is still more of a one way street. They might hear the word on the street, but they are not really engaged in a conversation.
Considering that most of the services and methods that are derived from them are less then five years old, we should be carful not to put all our resources into this frame of mind without an exit strategy.