Blogroll / Business models

How do we know that the Wikipedia passed the test of time?

More than fifteen years ago, Microsoft has launched its own encyclopedia – MSN Encarta. Following the classic business model as then derived for other encyclopedias, for example of Britannica.

What is a classic business model for an encyclopedia? You hire professional writers and experts to write articles about the thousand of topics to create an encyclopedia. Well compensated and qualified team of managers and editors will manage the project, which will and was initially conceived as a payable CD-ROM and later should be available also in the online version. What is the difference in value to the traditional print encyclopedia? Except that Microsoft has been and is still the giant with almost unlimited possibilities of distribution there is no significantly higher value against traditional encyclopedias printed version. Here it is now possible to argue faster, more practical use, greater convenience for serious work … but the fact remains. Microsoft was trying to develop the classic business model in another environment. What happened?

Growth of articles at Wikipedia shown graphically

Microsoft has shut down the project of its own encyclopedia at the end of October 2009. Moreover, this spring, in March 2012, after more than 200 years, Britannica announced the end of its printed form. Business model, motivation and co-working of the Wikipedia community have more than survived the test of time.

For co-working has not only a successful past, the co-working is the future for insurgent organizations.

p. s.: if in 1996 you would ask any economist whether it is possible to place a business model of exclusively free online encyclopedia, which will be created by voluntary authors, prevalent in many languages, including Slovenian for example – what answer would you get?

Marko Savić
I’m raising awareness of the connection of business model innovation with design thinking. Have just published a book on business models design. You may wish to meet me in person at my next workshop or interact with me on Twitter.

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