Anil Dash: With all due respect to Matt and Meg, we've all had about a day or so to analyze the data on this and make our knee-jerk calls about how this will affect revenues. I'm sure it's somebody's full time job at Times Digital (I dunno who, but it's somebody) to run the numbers on this. That person's probably been playing with Excel for months to figure out exactly the implications of this.

I'm sure this exact scene, some strategist hunched over a column of numbers, has been played out over and over again. I'm sure it happened at every extinct typewriter company in the past 20 years as they floundered in the face of the personal computer. Maybe there was even a "chief strategist for buggy whip manufacturing in the era of the automobile".

Sorry Anil, but never attribute to a well thought out strategy that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Update: I'm sure we can find a way to spin laying off 2% of their workforce as another one of those brilliant strategic maneuvers.

Personally, I'm glad Anil stood up and took the hard (or unpopular) side of the argument.  I think it's funny how short people's memories are.  Before Adsense and other blog-related ad tools came out, people hated advertising.  They were (and are) insatiable for tools that would wipe it away from their TV and Internet experience.  So, for bloggers to say how "stupid it is for the Times to charge for their content", and that they "clearly don't understand the value of slapping Adsense all over everything"  is unfair to the people who run the Times.

A further point that I would make is that people in general are becoming more and more comfortable paying for content.  I would dare say that with cable TV, satellite TV, and satellite radio, the percentage of disposable income spent on "media" during that past 30 years has steadily marched upwards.

Just my $0.02.

Posted by Carter on 2005-05-25

The funny thing is, I'm not actually disagreeing with your point. It may be that their business model is doomed. But none of the people who critiqued the move to add a paid service said "the Times' model is fundamentally flawed, across all media." The criticism has been about putting some of the online content behind a paywall. What I'm arguing is that this move might make sense, if the Times is unwilling to fundamentally make painful changes to their core business model, which most profitable organizations are unwilling to do, then this is a smart move.

Whether there's a larger social and cultural change that's fundamentally undermining the premise of a large daily print paper is kind of separate from whether this is a smart business move. I wouldn't argue that the Times can affect culture to a large enough degree to stop the social change, if it is happening.

Posted by Anil Dash on 2005-05-31