Many publishers attempting to enter the world of the Internet have come face to face with a peculiar problem: Unlike users of other media, Internet consumers have come to expect that products--and particularly information--will be free.
Earlier this year, Dow Jones Business Information Services decided to test that tenet, releasing a subscription-only edition of the Wall Street Journal on the Internet. Dow Jones plans to continue its foray onto the World Wide Web with several new services next year.
In January, the Princeton, N.J., company will add its publications library, which contains more than 68 million documents and abstracts from publications throughout the world, as an add-on service to the interactive edition of the Journal.
Also in January, the company will go live with a Web-based version of DowVision, a service that lets users access information from all Dow Jones news feeds, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times and the Asian version of the Wall Street Journal.
And in the first half of the year, the company will introduce a Web version of Dow Jones News Retrieval, a research service for librarians and corporations.
All of these services are targeted at corporations, and Tim Andrews executive director of enterprise products at Dow Jones, thinks they will be willing to pay.
"Once people see how much time it takes them to get information, they realize it isn't free," he said. "If time is important-say I'm a partner in a corporate firm-I don't have time to go a dozen sites. I find value in knowing what's on the front page of these papers."
Andrews thinks other content providers will be following Dow Jones' lead.
"You'll see the economics changing in the next year or so. But the free model doesn't hold in the publishing world and there is high value in content people will pay for," he said.
That's what Susan O'Neill, director of the Tax News Network at Coopers & Lybrand, in Washington, is hoping.
Coopers & Lybrand uses DowVision in its intranet to provide information to its 17,000 U.S. employees, and also bundles it with the Tax News Network, which it sells to about 1,300 companies.
"The WSJ is the business journal," said O'Neill. "The fact that that's accessible through the service is very valuable to our customers."
Andrews said Dow Jones will not abandon its traditional methods of providing news and information, but the company has to go where the customers are.
"Our customers today are increasingly using Web to do research. When they need to do research, we want them to think of Dow Jones news retrieval, whether they come through Web or through their internal service," he said.