Russell makes sense this time 27 Feb 2006
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Russell ask “where are the businesses?” I agree (and I almost never agree with Russell).
I especially liked this part:
Maybe it’s because I straddle the Web and Mobile worlds why I think this is such an issue. I deal with companies every day who have no qualms about charging 25 cents to send 160 characters of data from one person to another, or who have no problems charging $3.00 for a 10kb .gif image or a bad .midi version of a popular song, or even up to $10.00 for a small Java clone of Tetris - a 20 year old game. Unlike the web world, the mobile world is accustomed to charging for every thing that has the slightest bit of value. The difference between the markets couldn’t be more drastic.
It’s about value — something the new web set seems afraid to 1. create, and 2. charge for. I don’t know why people are afraid to charge for their services, but here are a few ideas: 1. they don’t think they’re good enough, 2. they are afraid to offend some people, 3. they think profit and idealism don’t mix, and 4. peer pressure (“come on, man, everyone’s doing the free”). What are the other reasons?
Okay, I’ve ranted enough. But I really do think there should be a litmus test for new web apps launched from now on - something very basic and if they don’t pass, they don’t qualify for any buzz or linkage. It’s a simple test: Will they take my credit card? That’s it. I don’t care if they have advertisers or sponsors or god knows what else, all I want to see is a place where I can type in my credit card for some service. Maybe it’s a Pro account, maybe it’s the main service after a trial, or maybe I don’t get jack until I pony up the cash. Regardless, that’s my test from now on. And that’s also my addition to that 16 ways article too: “Have an obvious way to take customer’s money.”
Sounds right to me. The press needs to pay more attention to the business side, not just the announcement side. Some of these “best web 2.0 software” lists are long on the short-term and short on the long-term. Launch is one thing, sustainability is another. The long-term should be taken into consideration when recommending a product.
And before people start screaming that “money isn’t the only thing that matters,” I agree — it’s not the only thing that matters. But if you are trying to build a business, money matters. Profit matters. Longevity matters. So don’t build a product, a team, and a company if you can’t support them. And yes, there are cases of free products that turn into very profitable products, but that’s just a lucky lottery ticket.