1. “IN RECENT years, consumers have become used to feasting on online freebies of all sorts: news, share quotes, music, e-mail and even speedy internet access. These days, however, dotcoms are not making news with yet more free offerings, but with lay-offs—and with announcements that they are to start charging for their services.”
2. These words appeared in The Economist in April 2001, but they’re just as applicable today.
3. During the dotcom boom, the idea got about that there could be such a thing as a free lunch, or at least free internet services.
4. Firms sprang up to offer content and services online, in the hope that they would eventually be able to “monetise” the resulting millions of “eyeballs” by selling advertising.
5. Things did not work out that way, though, and the result was the dotcom crash. Companies tried other business models, such as charging customers for access, but very few succeeded in getting people to pay up.
6. Then it happened all over again, starting in 2004 with the listing of Google on the stock market, which inflated a new “Web 2.0” bubble.
7. Google’s ability to place small, targeted text advertisements next to internet-search results, and on other websites, meant that many of the business models thought to have been killed by the dotcom bust now rose from the grave.