15 March 2006

E-commerce 2.0

It is striking how everybody is talking about Web 2.0, and yet nobody seems to mention e-commerce 2.0. In part, this is probably because few have managed to work out how to apply Web 2.0 technologies to e-commerce sites that are not directly based on selling those technologies (as most Web 2.0 start-ups are).

For a good example of what an e-commerce 2.0 site looks like, you could do worse than try Chinesepod.com (via Juliette White), a site that helps you learn Mandarin Chinese over the Net.

The Web 2.0-ness is evident in the name - though I do wish people would come up with a different word for what is, after all, just an mp3 file. It has a viral business model - make the audio files of the lessons freely available under a Creative Commons licence so that they can be passed on, and charge for extra features like transcripts and exercises. The site even has a wiki (which has some useful links).

But in many ways the most telling feature is the fact that as well as a standalone blog, the entire opening page is organised like one, with the lessons arranged in reverse chronological order, complete with some very healthy levels of comments. Moreover, the Chinesepod people (Chinese podpeople?) are very sensibly drawing on the suggestions of their users to improve and extend their service. Now that's what I call e-commerce 2.0.


Anonymous said...

Do I dare say Training 2.0? At ChinesePod, we just treat open source tech as the plumbing to help deliver value to users, be it blogs, wikis, tags, mobile XHTML, blog search tools (how we came across this post) etc.

Instead of tweaking existing learning management systems, we took a step back and saw how power was shifting in the media value chain from the producers to consumers and hypothesized that the same thing was likely to happen in the Training vertical. Traditional training/education is extremely inflexible and the our mission at OnDemand Training is to enable training on the student's terms, when, where and how the student wishes to consume it. ChinesePod is very much a work in progress (should I just use 'Beta'?), but we have already had revenue success validating our business model approach (having the advantage of tech development costs 1/10 of the US doesn't hurt either!). As far as I know, it is one of the few podcast-based services generating non-advertiser revenue right now.

ChinesePod Team

Glyn Moody said...

That's fascinating - thanks for the background.

And thanks, too, for the excellent site. I find the tone (no pun intended) of the lessons just right: neither too stiff and formal, nor too jokey and superficial. I wish you continuing success.