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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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The cost of giving it away

I am one of a declining number that likes to read a Sunday newspaper.

Recession notwithstanding, I am also one of those people that tends to struggle more in terms of time than money.

Therefore, I generally only have time to read one newspaper a week. The choice of newspaper is effectively zero-sum. I choose one newspaper; the others miss out.

I’ve deviated from that choice in recent weeks. Whereas I used to pick the Observer without fail, a lazy Sunday prompted me to give the Sunday Times a go.

And I enjoyed it. So much that I bought both newspapers again the following week. With time constraints restored, substantial amounts were left unread.

I therefore need to make a choice between the two titles.

And my choice is likely to be dictated by the quality of their websites. Both the Observer and Times offer the majority of their content online in an ad-supported free access model.

But rather than an excellent website causing me to buy the print edition, an excellent website may cause me to forego the print edition.

While print and online may complement, they also duplicate and cannibalise content.

If I am paying for a premium model, I want the greatest improvement in utility to justify that.

This example points to a problem with the Freenium model that I have.

It doesn’t work in perfect competition.

It works for companies like Flickr because Flickr stores my photos and logs my activity. Utility and the cost of switching increase the more I participate.

Newspapers don’t reward relationships (aside from getting the answer to the previous days crossword). So in each transaction, the additional utility in the premium model needs to be justified both against the free version and the competition.

Where (premium, competitive) newspapers are of equal quality, hikes in utility are dictated by the quality of the (free) website.

An inferior website equals a greater hike.

And so the loser in the pitch for my pocket may be that which has invested the most in their website.

Does this mean newspapers need to sabotage their websites in order to increase the value of their premium products? Such as bringing back walled gardens or keeping the best content offline? Henry Blodget thinks so.

Me? Newspapers aren’t my forte so I will resist the urge to speculate. But it raises an interesting question about their ongoing viability in a converged world.

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flavio_ferrari/

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Changes to the blog

This blog is now 9 months old. It has lasted a good 8 months longer than I expected it to, and I am keen to continue. I don’t think I have found my “voice” yet but I have truly benefited from posting – both in terms of the process that goes into formalising my thoughts, and from the feedback and comments I have received. Every day I write or read another blog post, I learn something new.

Anyway, I’ve introduced a few changes to the blog. Briefly, these are:

  • A new WordPress template. I’ve switched to the Digg 3 column template by Small Potato. Reading some of Chris Brogan’s posts on personal branding, I felt it was important to have a customised header in order to distinguish myself. At the moment, I have uploaded a photo I took from the Coney Island Ferris Wheel in July 2008, but I may replace it as I’m not convinced by its congruence.
  • Still on the personal branding front, I’ve pulled in some of the content from my outposts onto the blog through RSS feeds. The format isn’t the prettiest (in fact, it is quite ugly) but I now have my recent activity on Twitter (comments and observations), Tumblr (reblogging random or bizarre content I consume elsewhere), Flickr (photos) and Last.fm (music I listen to) brought in, as well as my favourites in delicious (links to all posts) and Slideshare (presentations I like) – incidentally all of these are already syndicated on my Friendfeed. I tend to use these forums to broadcast rather than converse due to time constraints, but I hope to get more involved as I get accustomed to the intricacies and build up more contacts.
  • I’ve refreshed my blog roll. I’ve removed a couple of inactive links and introduced a whole lot more (if I removed your link, frequency was the only consideration – it wasn’t personal)
  • A Zemanta logo may appear in the bottom right corner of some posts giving the option to reblog the post. Zemanta is a tool that suggests photos, links and tags for your posts based on the content. I don’t find the picture suggest helpful, but the link and tag buttons are both very useful.
  • When I remember, I will link to the post in my signature – that way I can stay abreast of any reblogs – from real people (good) and splogs (bad)

Thanks to everyone that has contributed in any way to this blog, and I look forward to continuing my education into matters of all kinds in the coming weeks, months and years.

sk

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