We all want to keep up to date about the news of the world. To do this, you might subscribe to a newspaper you appreciate or look online. However, free online news usually isn’t thorough and with a subscription to a newspaper you pay a lot for a lot of articles you might not even read. The latter point was exactly what Marten Blankesteijn thought was wrong with this system and what he sought to change. Blendle was born this way on the 15th of December 2012 and after a silent start, he teamed up with Alexander Klöpping and Blendle truly kicked off.
How does Blendle work? Users simply create a digital wallet and buy the articles they want to read digitally via the site. Whenever they select an article, between the 0.10 and 0.89 cents are deducted from their wallet, of which Blendle as an intermediary receives 30% and the publishers receive the rest. Amongst others, there are Dutch quality news papers such as NRC Handelsblad, nrc.next en de Volkskrant and magazines such as Elsevier available to choose from, and users have to option to like articles and reactions to the articles.
In order for this platform to work, the strategy for this two-sided market needs to be right. First of all, in pricing Blankesteijn and Klöpping did what was the most realistic: charge the large user group a small fee for access to the articles and pay the suppliers of the articles part of that fee (Eisenmann, Parker & Van Alstyne, 2006). In this way, value is co-created by giving publishers another outlet for their material and consumers a way to only target what they want to read by using this platform as a central point (Saarijärvi, Kannan & Kuusela, 2013). Furthermore, the institutional arrangement is remediably efficient, as there is joint profit (mentioned above), there is reallocation feasibility (as it is easy to draw up contracts for the system), and there is switchover feasibility (Current subscribers of the publishers are unlikely to cancel their subscriptions due to the brands and this will only be augmented by profits coming from Blendle) (Carson, 1999). It’s basically a slam-dunk when it comes to crowdsourcing as well, as this platform has the potential to get contributions from a very wide variety of different publishers. Apart from this, the site also uses the software package Mixpanel to analyse the userdata and in this way it’s attractiveness for customers, who can get a personalised experience including recommendations on what to read next, is enhanced (Majchrzak, Malhotra, 2013).
Blankesteijn and Klöpping are not done by a long shot, as they intend to expand the platform with foreign publishers as well, and given their idea, it’s clear to see why. Apart from catering to a very real need coming from customers, Blendle may also be an excellent way for publishers (especially newspapers) to save their struggling empires against all kinds of free news sources, which already implement the ‘only-read, no-strings-attached’ principle, as it will allow them to effectively showcase their body of literature to prospective subscribers. So in conclusion, there’s still a lot of untapped potential hidden in the system and Blendle might very well become your first station stop for all your reading needs in the future.
- Blendle. Accessed April 28th, 2014. https://beta.blendle.nl//
- Blendle is er vijf vragen over de concurrent partner van kranten en tijdschriften. Accessed April 28th, 2014.
- Carson, Stephen J., et al. “Understanding institutional designs within marketing value systems.” Journal of Marketing (1999).
- Eisenmann, Thomas, Geoffrey Parker, and Marshall W. Van Alstyne. “Strategies for two-sided markets.” Harvard Business Review 84.10 (2006).
- Majchrzak, A., and A. Malhotra. “Towards an information systems perspective and research agenda on crowdsourcing for innovation.” Journal of Strategic Information Systems 22.4 (2013).
- Saarijärvi, Hannu, P. K. Kannan, and Hannu Kuusela. “Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications.” European Business Review 25.1 (2013).