Subscription-based web tools: another nail in the coffin of free web services?
September 28, 2001 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Subscription-based web tools: another nail in the coffin of free web services? Yahoo is apparently testing the waters for a subscription-based web Office app. I use their (free) email, notepad, bookmark and briefcase tools on occasion. Nice to have, but you have to wonder how long they can remain free. Don't know if I would pay for them, depends on what service level guarantees they would offer in return. How would people would react if they suddenly started charging for these things? Is it still too unrealistic to wonder how long till our operating system needs a local drive only to boot up?
posted by mmarcos (8 comments total)
I never go to Yahoo! myself (tried 'em, didn't like 'em). But when it comes to subscription-based Web services, I'm skeptical. It always comes down to cost vs. value: what's it worth to you? And I don't see much out there worth paying for.
Of course, the Internet was designed for "the *free* exchange of information" and making it a paying proposition is getting harder in the present economic climate. And I wonder about fee-based Napster-type services; even though people got used to getting anything they wanted for free, most would be willing to pay--if it looks like a good deal.
It's like the punchline to that old joke; "We've already established what kind of girl you are. Now we're just arguing about the price." :)
posted by StOne at 7:03 AM on September 28, 2001

> how long till our operating system needs a local drive
> only to boot up?

Ever since the computer industry was first forced to take micros seriously they've been hoping to turn them into something in between a diskless workstation and a dumb terminal. The current "opportunity" is to push the control and security angle and either imply or state openly (e.g. to Congress) that people who want to keep their systems independent are really terrorists at heart.

Support your neighborhood right-wing zealot.
posted by jfuller at 7:16 AM on September 28, 2001

I'd pay a few bucks to continue using Yahoo services, but only a few bucks. Why? Cuz I connect to them over a fast cable connection and they give me sub 56k modem performance.

Note to Yahoo: having to wait 15 seconds for each page to load and keep hammering my reload button is worth $4.95 a month. Not a penny more. Now pages that load like they shoud? $9.95 a year is my final offer. Take it or leave it, and leave it and I got o one of your free competitors...
posted by BentPenguin at 8:36 AM on September 28, 2001

Ten thousand paying users would be far more valuable to Yahoo than a million people using the service for free. Costs would be down and revenue would be up. "Eyeballs" don't generate revenue.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:08 AM on September 28, 2001

On a similar note, as a result of the temporary closing of due to bandwidth concerns, Lowtax has changed his forums over to a paid subscription model.

Sign of things to come? Unfortunately, I can't see it any other way. TANSTAAFL, after all.
posted by digital_insomnia at 11:35 AM on September 28, 2001

I would pay maybe $20 a year to keep my yahoo email... Provided they remove ads, of course. And that's only because my other e-mail requires an ssh client that I'm not always able to download on the 'puters I use.
posted by fujikosmurf at 4:52 PM on September 28, 2001

In the vein of digital_insomnia's comment, I wonder how long before the issue of bandwidth will force a different economic structure on the whole internet thing: small ISPs going out of business, being bought up by larger ones, the large ones focing users to agree to certain licenses about what and how much can be posted, etc. Corporations would take advantage of this fast a la AOL, a million subscribers at $20/month, tempting revenues. There's just never been anything similar to the internet as far as distribution schemes. (Or am I overlooking some key piece of history?)
posted by mmarcos at 8:05 AM on September 29, 2001

Oh, about minus three months. (It's already happening.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:52 AM on September 29, 2001

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