In our second article, we continue to explore the 9 Models of Recurring Income, starting with The Network Model. If you haven’t yet read our previous article be sure to review it here 9 Ways to Set Up a Subscription Business Model.
The Network Model is a recurring income model that increases in value as more people subscribe.
Let’s take the telephone as an example.
While it may be difficult to imagine the days before telephones became commonplace, this was in fact one of the earliest Network Models. The use of the telephone to early adopters was limited by literally having no one to call. As the number of subscribers to the telephone service began to increase, the network become more valuable for all subscribers.
The point of difference in the Network Model is that the users have a vested interest in promoting the subscription: the more subscribers, the greater the value for every individual.
WhatsApp messaging platform is another example of a recurring income model, the company previously offered a minimal subscription of one dollar a year, giving users the ability to send unlimited free messages over the internet rather than paying a mobile provider. While they scrapped their subscription fee in 2016, at the peak of its subscription model WhatsApp had around 700 million users worldwide and their yearly revenue could be estimated at $US 700 million per year at that time.
In 2014 they were acquired by Facebook for US$ 19 billion in one of the biggest acquisitions the company had made to date. While their initial recurring income model funded growth, insiders have speculated that the rationale of Facebook acquiring WhatsApp was to access user’s behavioural data and personal information. As of February 2018 WhatsApp had over 1.5 billion users with 60 billion messages sent per day – that’s a lot of powerful data. No matter what the intention, it’s clear that WhatsApp was valuable asset for Facebook.
The Network Model has applications in many different settings. While online games existed beforehand, it was the arrival of World of Warcraft that heralded a huge change to the gaming landscape. Online gamers would be the first to tell you that playing the game is fun, but the experience is so much better when your friends get to join you in ‘cyberspace’ – another example of the Network Model in action.
“It (World of Warcraft) was a place where gamers would go and communicate with each other and interact. It was very common if you enjoyed the game, you’d invite your family and friends to join in, maybe start a guild together — it’s always had a strong social element. We were one of the first virtual theme parks of the internet.”
Executive Producer, World of Warcraft
In 2015 World of Warcraft had 5.5 million active subscribers, with their wise choice of a recurring income model—a monthly subscription rate of $14.99 per month—their revenue was upwards of $82 million yearly. It’s likely these figures have dropped over time as new games have hit the market, but there is no doubt that their recurring income model contributed to the success of the company.
Stay tuned. In this series, we’re covering the 9 different recurring income models to understand more about subscription style revenue. It will open your eyes to a number of different options that are working for other businesses.
Don’t forget to review our other articles so far in the series.
As you learn about the different recurring income models, look at them with a curious lens. Rather than thinking “that would never work in my industry” think about how elements could be introduced or borrowed – you don’t need to have a 100% subscription model to benefit. Even a portion of recurring income will bring great advantages.
You'll discover that subscription business models can work in businesses and industries you never imagined. If you have an open mind, it could change the way you do business forever!
Keep an eye out for our next article where we’ll dive into the second model of recurring income.
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