THINKstrategies Launches New SaaS/Cloud Computing Daily Using Paper.li
Last Friday, December 3, THINKstrategies rolled out a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)/Cloud Computing daily, online newspaper powered by Paper.li. This publication and the online service which creates it illustrate many of the exciting ingredients of the ‘Cloud’, some of the major implications and a few of the unanswered questions.
For the uninitiated, Paper.li is a relatively new, online service created by a privately-held startup, called SmallRivers, incorporated in Switzerland. It compiles links to web articles which have been tweeted or mentioned on Facebook regarding a particular set of user-designated subjects over a period of time (also user-configured) and displays them in a newspaper-style format.
I’ve long believed that Twitter out-performs Google as a search engine and alerting tool for the latest news and views on various topics of interest to me. Every day I’m amazed at how many articles and announcements I find via Twitter, which a Google search and my Google alerts fail to identify. Of course, it isn’t Twitter which is finding these items online, it is the people who tweet about them. It is the epitome of ‘crowdsourcing’, or more precisely ‘cloudsourcing’.
In the same way the iPod, iPhone and iPad have created vast universes of add-on products, Twitter has sparked a similar ‘cloud’-industry of new services attempting to capitalize on the explosive growth of daily tweets.
And, just as Twitter’s ultimate revenue-model was hard to recognize when it first rolled out, Paper.li’s potential revenue stream(s) is still taking shape. At the moment, it appears to be a classic freemium offer aimed at virally encouraging an ever-widening set of users to promote SmallRivers’ basic functionality in hopes that a sufficient subset will subscribe to its Pro custom development tool.
However, even the basic free version has an obvious adverstising appeal which has already gained some initial attention from potentially lucrative sponsors, such as Microsoft.
The bare-bones nature of the current version of Paper.li, along with the lack of revenue-sharing opportunities for users, has led to some mixed reviews in the blogosphere. However, my guess is that Paper.li is working feverishly to remedy these deficiencies to build on its early momentum.
A bigger question is what impact Paper.li will have on the traditional newspaper business, which is continues to struggle to pull out of a decade-long tailspin. Just as many newspapers are beginning to stabilize their revenues by fine-tuning their online businesses to counteract the devastating affect of Google’s onslaught and the dismal economy, Paper.li has created a new nightmare for these newspapers by empowering anyone to become an online newspaper publisher. It’s another example of the Web’s reverse-alchemy powers and its ability to flatten the competitive landscape of almost any industry.
I’m a perfect case in point of this phenomenon by not only launching THINKstrategies’ SaaS/Cloud Computing Daily, but throwing aside the Boston Globe as my homepage in favor of my own Paper.li page which contains far more relevant content to meet my needs and satisfy my interests.
The emergence of Paper.li renews many of the questions and concerns which have surrounded the impact of Google on traditional media. Has Google’s search engine and ancillary services undermined (i.e., stolen) traditional media or driven more traffic its way? Will Paper.li’s rapidly growing population of user-centric online publications steal away or attract more readers from traditional newspapers?
I welcome your perspectives on these questions and feedback about THINKstrategies’ SaaS/Cloud Computing Daily.