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Blog network GigaOm has announced the launch of a Pro service today. The Pro service is a premium paid subscription option available at $79/year. GigaOm founder Om Malik has a blog post which provides details on why he decided to launch the Pro service and what the service will offer.
Om discusses the importance of multiple sources of revenue and notes that their core competencies are, analyzing key technology trends and business news”. Sites like PaidContent sell research reports but the GigaOm Pro offering will be a bit different. The content areas will include:
- Weekly Updates
- Long Views
- Quarterly Wrap-ups
- Research Notes
- Research Briefings
There are 17 research reports available on the service today and Om says they will be adding more soon. What I liked about the PDF reports is the internal links inside the reports which link to content online.
It will be interesting to watch which pieces of content make it to the free site and which are pushed into the paid side. Normally my view is that companies should offer as little as possible for free to get customers to upgrade — not sure that will work with a blog-freemium model. The key is to make sure that the paying customers always feel like they are getting something special over the content on the main GigaOm blogs.
I’d also look to integrate the “pro” option throughout the network of sites so that Pro users are recognized and new content can be pushed to them no matter where they are on the GigaOm network. Maybe even remove ads for Pro members and replace the ads with suggested/related content from the Pro site.
Late last week I was contacted by Drop.io co-founder Sam Lessin to check out their newest launch. Today their updated file sharing platform went live — you can read about the updates on ArsTechnica and on the Drop.io blog. The basic idea is that files you upload are available to people you’ve shared the "file drop" with instantly along with the ability to chat on any file drop.
As I was sitting in the barber chair this morning reading the various posts on the launch, one thing appeared to be missing from every post. The missing piece in all of the posts is that Drop.io’s business model is based on upgrades. For drop.io, more drops is really meaningless except for a stat to share with the media. The key is getting people to either pay to upgrade the size of their file drops or get companies into their "manager" program which is also fee-based.
I am curious as to whether today’s updates will push people into either paid option listed above. The more I thought about it on the subway, I couldn’t find a solution that pointed to yes. The new features will certainly be used which is great for overall system usage.
When you offer a freemium model, the key should always be to push users into the paid options. Conversion is of utmost importance. Unlike most services, Drop.io isn’t showing ads to their free users making those accounts completely free of revenue.
I am sure that Sam has a plan with regards to pushing people into upgrades that will generate revenue for the company. I am sharing my thoughts here because getting users moved into paid plans is a question I am often asked. I continue to believe that if you are offering a freemium model, you need to offer as little as possible to keep people using the service for free while always trying to push them to upgrade. At the same time, you should always give your free customers a taste of what’s available behind the pay wall.
Online storage company Hordit has announced that they are removing the free account and are switching to paid plans only. Hordit describes their service as, ‘Hordit lets you unleash the information hoarder in you. Store and share links, documents, notes and more – as much as you want – for free! Filter articles from your favorite blogs and news sites with "research assistant." Manage the sites you visit regularly with your "daily read." And keep track of links for later perusal with "look later."’ I guess the free part will need to be removed from their product description. Jennifer at Mashable has a good review of the Hordit service from last month.
The new plan will offer users 90 days free trial and then a $5/month option. Founder Matt Brown noted in a blog post, "Our intention from the start was to provide a base service for free supported by a subscription service. Unfortunately, funding dynamics are changing and we have been forced to alter our plans." I’d have picked 30 or 45 days free – 90 is an eternity in web time.
We’ve watched more and more services move to paid-only or freemium models this year. I’ve said for a long time that this would happen and it’s good to see that businesses are realizing advertising alone won’t cut it. The issue here is that as long as some provider is willing to offer the service for free, it will make it hard for services like Hordit to find willing paying customers. Hordit will need to continue to innovate at a fast pace to stay ahead of the free services.
This year we will see startups experimenting with new business models and I say yahoo! It’s about time. Most companies aren’t able to live without revenue for an infinite period of time like you know who.
Skinnyr is a web application that provides a way to track your weight online. We reviewed the service when it initially launched in June of 2007. The easiest way to describe Skinnyr is to say it’s an online scale that you can share. Founder James Thomas says they are adding between 20 and 50 new users each day.
Thomas sent over a note that has has re-launched the app with a variety of new features. The biggest change is a complete rework of the graph page. In the previous version there was one graph, both for viewing on Skinnyr and for embedding. In the new version (example below), there’s a separate graph for use on the Skinnyr site and a graph for embedding.
The other major product update is the installation of a "freemium" revenue model. This means that some features are available for free and some are paid. Here’s a list of what you receive if you pay the $10/year for the premium subscription:
- SMS/Text messaging
- Full API (some functions are premium only)
- Monthly average graph
- Goal weight
- Trend line
- No ads
I almost think Skinnyr needs more ads to use "no ads" as a selling point. One ad on the top (see below) isn’t enough to push me to want to remove the ads for $10.
What’s interesting is that Thomas also lists what’s coming soon for premium subscribers. Not sure I’ve seen this before but the list includes: BMI graph, Multiple Goal Weights, Advanced embedding options (colors, sizes, etc.). Not sure I get the "multiple goal weights" – it’s not like I can add back a block of fat for the weekend :)
Skinnyr is an interesting service as it’s clearly not as robust as other online fitness sites but it does one thing very well. I could see a company like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig either acquiring or white-labeling the Skinnyr service for their members. If Thomas isn’t thinking about white-labeling and partnerships, he should be. Most likely that would be an "easier" way to revenue.