In the last three months of 2000, it is estimated that over 750 dot.

The New Internet - FREE VS FEE

In the last three months of 2000, it is estimated that over 750 businesses went out of business forever.

It was to be expected and very predictable because far too many enterprises were riding high on investor cash infusions, were long on promises but produced little if any cash flow.

The promise of success never materialized and investors wisely refused to throw good money after bad.

No business can survive having expenses but no revenue. Not even on the Internet.

That was the "Old Internet" business model.

You could write down an idea for an Internet business on a cocktail napkin and get millions of dollars from eager investors. Reality has finally set in and once FREE businesses are changing their stripes and attempting to charge a fee for their content or services.

Enter the "New Internet".

The first quarter of 2001 has seen a rash of companies jumping on the "Now We Charge a FEE" bandwagon.

A wide variety of services and content that was once delivered for FREE are now being delivered ONLY if you pay a fee.

This includes such services as web hosting, web site content like the current time, weather and date, stock quotes, music files and much more.

Those once FREE services and content were able to be provided because there was a strong advertiser base that paid for the show we all enjoyed.

But the advertising base has faltered.

Some of the big names that now offer new premium services include Yahoo!,, eBay,, and of course, the new court ordered changes at Napster,, which made it a legal necessity to charge a fee for their music services.,, has always provided web-hosting sites for small businesses, as well as email forwarding, e-commerce packages and marketing tools.

For several weeks now, has been alerting its nearly 1 MILLION members that changes in their services would soon be implemented.

Their Basic FREE service is now little more than a Business Card Web Page, with ads inserted and a forwarding email address.

The next step up is their Charter service which allows members 35mb of disk space with a monthly fee of $7.95. On top of that, there is also a set-up fee of $7.95.

It is VERY doubtful that they will continue to boast of nearly 1 MILLION members.

Especially when you consider that there are still many web sites around that provide the same level of service for FREE on which wants to start charging a monthly fee.

A survey in our FBCN newsletter clearly showed that 100% of our 282 respondents, would NOT pay a fee for service or content they can aquire elsewhere for FREE.

Perhaps some online businesses can get away with now charging a FEE for previously FREE services or content.

However, any business playing with the idea of changing their structure would do well to research the competition.

The Internet was born on a FREE exchange of ideas.

I do feel we will NEVER see the complete removal of all FREE based services from the Internet.

However, it is only natural to presume that some online businesses MUST charge a fee or cease to exist.

Which ones will depend on the unique type of service or content that they provide.

However, I predict that the most valuable properties online will be those that have a business model based on BOTH FREE content and services, but with FEE based content and services that are much more enhanced.

The promise of a FREE service or content will continue to drive traffic to a web site. Once there, visitors will be given the option of paying to receive PREMIUM or ENHANCED service and content.

That will be the nature of , "The New Internet".

About the author: A.T.Rendon is an entrepreneur and published writer. Subscribe to FREE Business Classifieds Newsletter & receive FREE online access to our Password Protected "FREE Submit To Over 1 MILLION FREE Ad Sites!" Visit us at:

Author: A.T.Rendon