Rolf Skyberg twittered me to publish something about my proposal I submitted to the web 2.0 expo 2008 conference. (this after I confessed to him that in a moment of inspiration while reading his blog entry about the conference, I decided to submit a presentation). More on what I would like to present there in a moment.
Although I have a lot of thoughts on web 2.0 developments and the effect it has on human behavior, I am a relative unknown in this world. I started blogging quite recently (about 2 months ago :-)). I haven’t made great appearances yet on the web 2.0 conference scene (well, not as a presenter anyways, but you should see me at the bar). I am (not yet) a successful entrepreneur, haven’t had success or failure with starting new companies. I am working in a corporate environment at KPN, the Dutch Telecommunications operator (with the coolest job!). I am leading a really awesome and possibly earth shaking international non-platform user centric interaction web project (I’m getting carried away here), but it is still in stealth mode so not many people really would know about that either. So the question is, where do I get the idea that anyone is waiting for me to present something?
I hope for 2 reasons I might make it through the cut:
- I have gotten almost 5000 people reading my posts since I started. There are quite a few regular subscribers now, averaging a few 100 readers dropping by each day, I get more comments on the things I write than the number of articles I posted, and people start linking to my blog. I don’t have a clue if that is a good performance or not, don’t really care about that. But I am really happy with the interaction and I do hope that some of you enjoy reading my posts 🙂
- I haven’t found many blogs or bloggers that focus on the user perspective. Could be I’m horribly missing out on great blogs, but it seems that in that perspective I have something to add to this world.
So back to my web 2.0 expo submission. Looking back at the main themes I have been writing about, the amount of people reading about them (as sort of an importance indicator) I decided to take a stand on the most commonly used web 2.0 business model, the free (ad-based) service.
I have written some of my views on this in an earlier post called “16 Bln reasons to get out of the web 2.0 trap”, and have gotten some good responses on it (thanks guys). I think there are a lot of reasons why we need some lateral thinking and execution against the $ 16 Bln US ad revenue pressure on web service development.
The business model itself focuses the service provider to create traffic, build walled gardens and then leverage the value of the traffic and network build. Notice how I avoid using the word “user” in these sentences. It is not that there is no intention by the entrepreneur to deliver value to the users. But they are distracted along the way by the pull of advertisement revenues, investors, crazy valuations of big hits like Facebook, and tech bloggers all fueling this business model. Now with Steve Rubel leading the way to try and do things differently.
But where does that leave me as a user? I’m being spoiled by the idea that everything is free, which is obviously not true (someone has to pay for those servers zooming out there). I’m ignoring most of the “clever” ad and promotional activities that are flying around me on the web (it’s like zapping away from the commercials on tv really, same advertisement mistakes but now on-line). I’m confronted with services that often haven’t really thought about user value, UI, portability, privacy, flexibility etc. The service owner wants me always on and always at their place, while I want to disconnect when I feel like it and feel that they should come visit my place once in a while!
So we are all tied together in this together. In one hand we have the force of $16Bln on-line advertisement revenues making startups and investors focus on leveraging social network value and the quick buck. On the other hand we have the user being severely spoiled by getting all these services for free, but ignoring most of this $16 Bln user value reduction thrown in their face. The result is a perfect deadlock situation. Instead of innovating from a user centric perspective, the focus of most web 2.0 companies is on leveraging the social network value.
In my opinion this web 2.0 business model is doomed to fail as it is fueled from the wrong side. Not the by the user or user needs, but by the investor and the advertiser, backed up by the ADHD “scoop seeking” tech blogger publishing about it (and other bloggers demystifying the popularity of that). To get out of this web 2.0 advertisement trap we need some lateral thinking and entrepreneurs that can think beyond the obvious business model.
In this presentation I intend to describe this deadlock in more detail, show how the user gets around them as it doesn’t provide him true value, and provide suggestions for alternative business models to get out of this trap. The companies that can leverage user value instead of network value will be the successful ones. They will hold the needle that pops the web 2.0 advertisement bubble and move into a new evolution of the web.
What do you think? Is it worth your valuable time to listen to such a presentation? Do you have suggestions to improve on the story line so that my chances of making it through the cut might just increase? Have you done any lateral thinking yourself and came up with brilliant new business models? Let me know, I would love to hear them.