The End of the Free-Lunch Era?

October 2001
by Reid Goldsborough

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The Golden Age of the Web is over. Or is it?

The ongoing tumble in the value of technology stocks and the subsequent drying up of venture capital for dot-coms have had dramatic repercussions for Web-empowered consumers and businesses. Many Web services that were once free now cost.

 

For instance, the formerly free Britannica.com just began charging individual users subscription rates of $5 per month or $50 per year for full access.

 

Britannica.com, the online version of Encyclopædia Britannica and other reference materials now available at http://www.britannica.com, understands the Web mindset, which holds to the adage, “Information wants to be free.” The service still provides some free information, though there are caveats.

 

Without subscribing, you can still access all of the articles in the encyclopedia, though you can read only the first two paragraphs. Plus you can still access all of the pictures, though you can see only thumbnail versions.

 

In addition, when going the free route at this site, you can still read the full text of articles from popular magazines about the subject you’re searching for and the most recent 30 days of articles from the Reuters news service. But you’ll be bombarded with pop-up ads, whereas subscribing eliminates this distraction.

 

Britannica.com isn’t alone. The list of other one-time Web freebies whose backers…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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