Privacy & Evolution of the Business Model Pt. 2
A little over a year ago I wrote a quick post on the evolution of the business model. I was thinking quite a bit about the transparency being built into the social nature of digitally connected lives. Some news was being published around that time that iPhones were tracking your whereabouts. I found a small application that pulled that location data and plotted it on a map. It was incredible to see my locations over the prior year.
In the last two weeks there has been a bit more stir about privacy, business models and the translation of value for users/business in the digital realm. Twitter has made some announcements about the restrictions of it's API to try and derive more value for both Users and Shareholders. Dalton Caldwell wrote a wonderful response and then decided to release a self-organized kickstarter-esqe campaign to build a real-time social service that isn't ad-supported. Fred Wilson then chimed in with a follow up post re-iterating his stance on the value of Free Services.
Here is an important distiction I believe Twitter made that defines this change of policy and their vision of staying "free" for users. Dick Costello, in his quoted remark in Twitters post about the policy change -
What you’ll see us do more and more as a platform is allow third parties to build into Twitter.
Unmistakeably, what I believe Dick had to of used very intentionally is the word "into". As Twitter, Facebook and other socially graphed services continue to grow, they're finding that in supporting the value creation activities of ad-delivery and substantiating market value to shareholders, they need to have developers and 3rd party services build "into" their graphs instead of "out of". I think this is an incredible important distiction that Dalton Caldwall is getting right to the heart of in his vision of builting app.net
I belive the jury is still out on whether or not the internet can support a 3rd type of business model. I really like that app.net wants to be the antithesis to Twitters ad-supported service, but what if charging for something is not the only other way to exist?
I know that as an individual user, I can feel the powerful effects of targeted marketing based on Facebook and Twitters understanding of my social likes and follows. They can learn about me for free and therefore serve me more relevant information - Which is a great win. I also know that I'm willing to pay cold hard cash for very elegant, simple applications and serivces that do and incredible job and their specific function. It's why I'm writing this post in iA Writer.
I just want to ask what if. What if there is another way to create value for users and exist as a business being a free, user focused, developer enabling, social service.