If you were on twttr or as it later became known, twitter in 2006, you can search for your first tweets at http://kellan.io/oldtweets. Kellan writes more about what he built on his blog where he writes,
I think our history is what makes us human, and the push to ephemerality and disposability “as a feature” is misguided. And a key piece of our personal histories is becoming “the story we want to remember”, aka what we’ve shared. I just wanted my old tweets, as a side effect I got all of them.
It’s humbling to look at these early tweets. Like the first, tentative steps of a child. This was before hashtags, before the @sign, before links, it was just text and, if memory serves, most of us were using T9 text entry and sending our blips off via SMS to 40404. We had no idea what twitter would become.
Thank you @kellan for digging up our collective past and reminding us of our earlier, simple selves. It’s amazing how something so mundane has turned into a force that has sparked revolutions and changed the media landscape.
Yesterday, Next Issue, a company that had been doing exactly that on the Android platform jumped up with the launch of their iOS app which brings together all you can read from almost 40 magazines, for one monthly flat fee.
The publications are from their investors Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, and Time (full list of magazines on offer and their parent companies are listed on paidContent). Their basic plan is for $10/month while for $15/month you get access to additional “premium” magazines such as The New Yorker, People, and Sports Illustrated.
Now that the solution is here, would you go for it? The reception seems mixed. A shortcoming that my colleague at GigaOM has noted is the lack of social features. The web has forever changed the way we read. Both in how we discover what to read and again in the way we share what we’ve read. I think I saw Dave McClure wearing a shirt once that said, “If you can’t share it, it doesn’t exist” – this is the future, this is the way to growth.
It’s not clear to me how Next Issue will be able to roll in social into their subscription-only product. As with other paywalled sites, sharing of Next Issue articles will not work unless they get creative because subscribers will know that they’re sending out dead end links to their non-subscriber friends.
Social sharing will work if enough people can access what you’re sharing so a network effect kicks in. This is starting to work with Spotify because they have a free, ad-supported subscription so all you need to do is register and install the app to listen. The hope is that after enough listens, you’ll get hooked on the product and up-sell to their ad-free subscription product.
Without sharing, there will be no social discovery. Without social discovery, you’re stuck with what’s on the newsstand shelf and how the articles are presented to you by each publication. This is the way it used to be, this is the way to stagnation.
So how can Next Issue grow it’s subscriber base so that social sharing can kick in and drive further subscriber growth? I suggest two options.
1. Create an ad-supported freemium client that lets those that follow links put out by Next Issue subscribers get a taste of the product. They have a 30-day free trial but it requires a credit card, that is too high a barrier, it needs to be totally free and dead easy to install. This is probably not an option as there is almost no reason to convert to a paid subscription if such a free product exists. That leaves the next choice,
2. Do a deal with a major brand such as American Express or Microsoft to underwrite enough subscriptions as a membership benefit so that you get an install base large enough to encourage broad sharing between subscribers and a community of “haves” that are sufficient to encourage those without to sign up either with the sponsor or Next Issue directly.
The future is with sponsored subscription bundles. Not only for Next Issue but for Spotify and Netflix, all these services will take off when the media buyers put together deals which pay for these memberships. I have a bunch of United Airlines miles but would much rather use them to pay for my Spotify subscription than another cramped trip in a tin can on an airline.
Sponsored subscription bundles. That’s my big bet. It’s the future of the subscription business model and the future of brand advertising.
Very interesting experiment over at the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago Tribune will at last begin charging for its online content through an innovative scheme that will also give readers access to a premium package of third party content, the newspaper has told paidContent. Under the plan, readers will see selections from the Economist and Forbes magazines included in a new paid section, which will also include Tribune content that has been newly designated as premium. – paidContent, June 26th, 2012
Bundles are the obvious way to add value and therefore charge a premium. This is common in the print world. The Japan Times did a deal with the International Herald Tribune and would include several pages of their international coverage within their weekly paper, the Wall Street Journal makes it’s business news and Weekend Journal available for other papers to license. I’m not talking about the AP, Reuters, or other wire services that make a business from licensing their content – I’m talking about visibly branded bundles where the reader recognizes they are getting two publications for the price of one.
I’m sure I’m missing something but I can’t think of an example of this happening online with any premium news sites. Sure, Yahoo bundled in brands such as ABC and CNBC into news.yahoo.com, that’s not what I’m talking about – I am talking about instances where a group of online publications get together to share subscription plans so their customers get the benefit of multiple brands with a single subscription.
I’m interested in this because it’s the next step in something that I first wrote about last year. Once you have the concept of a subscription bundle, the next step is to get sponsors to underwrite these bundles.
But the most visionary thing and something I keep coming back to is will.i.am’s vision of the next generation internet. It’s a world where brand “alliances” pool together to subsidize content producers. A world where, “chips talk to chips” without a middleman to make the free flow of content seamless and automatic. In this new world, a collection of devices will marry themselves to a library of content and work seamlessly together. – this blog, Feb 23, 2011
Imagine a perk for all American Express Platinum members that includes annual subscriptions to wsj.com, nytimes.com, the iPad app for the New Yorker, Spotify, and a Netflix account. Maybe they give you an iPad as a bonus for signing on today. Wouldn’t that be a compelling benefit? That would speak to me better than free access to airline lounges or free hotel room upgrades.
Besides iTunes or Amazon, is there a business out there pulling together online subscription bundles that isn’t tied to hardware?
As my son enters his teen years, he is using the internet to uncover nostalgic items from my past.
Two things he uncovered today:
Star Wars via Telnet has been something that’s been around for years but somehow passed me by. Open up a terminal window and type telnet towel .blinkenlights.nl and sit back and watch the original Star Wars in all it’s ASCII glory. A labor of love, the pre-amble tells us that you can now watch in color if you access the site via IP6.
Pica Pic is a kind of online museum of those old Nintendo pocket LCD games anyone over 35 should recognize instantly. Developed by Hipopotam Studio in Poland, this site lets you replay these games using your keyboard and recreates the entire experience complete with the original 8-bit sounds. The only thing missing is the tactile feel of the rubber buttons.
What is the internet if not a big attic of our collective past for our kids to rummage around?