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The free Internet is history

    In response to the August 9 Perspectives column by Charles Cooper, "The end of free? Please, let it be":

    True, there are news sites that are supported by ads (CNET News.com is one of them). It will be difficult, though, to charge for content. Most users will be turned off. Think about it. Many users already pay for a newspaper subscription and maybe one or two magazines. In my experience these sources cover all the information I want adequately.

    I log on to CNET only because it is convenient to read the headlines on the screen, and it's free. If CNET were to provide carefully researched articles on information technology, they may be able to attract IT professionals paying for the content. But that will be a small segment of the current visitors to their Web sites.

    As the Internet matures and users begin to think how to integrate it into their business and professions, fewer people will just roam the Internet just looking for freebies.

    The free Internet is history already. Times are tough only for content providers who built their business model on ad support and are now faced with sharply reduced revenues as companies skimp on advertising in the current bear market.

    Gerhard Bardach
    Vienna, Austria