Friends Reunited considers dropping pay walls
Stalking is a right, not a privilege
Proto-social network Friends Reunited looks set to capitulate in its battle to make web users pay for services. Owner ITV is considering dropping some subscription fees in an attempt to stop defections to Facebook, Bebo, and other free sites.
Friends Reunited currently charges £7.50 every six months for the ability to contact other members.
A spokeswoman said: "No decisions have been taken yet. Plans are underway to build a bridge between Friends Reunited and ITV’s other online assets. These include making more parts of Friends Reunited free to use."
A move towards free services would be part of broader plans to integrate Friends Reunited with ITV's other dating and genealogy sites, she added.
It would be a shocker if the site didn't do something to stop the rot, however. Friends Reunited claims 19 million members, but has failed to capitalise on the explosion in social networking traffic in the last year, according to ComScore data. Figures in September showed it had scraped a 1.2 per cent year-on-year rise in traffic.
The site was bought by ITV for £120m cash in 2005. It's now looking rather tired next to more modern networks with their array of Ajax-powered ex stalking tools.
Boss Jon Clarke says revenues at Friends Reunited are up 38 per cent for the year, however. ®
FR was good when it first started. Folks could say what their old school was really like, share memories etc. It was slightly cosy reminiscences and maybe a bit of gentle revenge. It was never a social networking site. That idea hadn't been invented. It was a forum, if anything.
But then they ( the original owners) got nervous or something and took away all the fun bits.
At which point I stopped paying my *£5* a year.
Friends Reunited are clueless
"you don't need to pay to use the site, it's the other buggers who have to pay if they want to annoy you"
I have had a couple of people try to contact me through FriendsReunited. They have paid to send me the "How are you these days?" message.
For me to reply, I then have to pay as well. So, you DO need to pay to use the site AS WELL AS the other buggers. That strikes me as taking the Mickey. That's why they're going down the pan - excessive greed and not understanding the market.
Right, back to wasting my Friday afternoon reading my free newspaper (El Reg) and networking for free with colleagues (LinkedIn) and looking for a job on the free job ads site (JobServe).
Friends Reunited was great in it's day and a pioneer in social networking terms before the advent of "Web 2.0", but it just didn't keep up with the times.
The site is a shocking mess now in design terms and usability, and other social network sites have displaced it.
Facebook in particular seems to have been adopted by the Brits as the new Friends Reunited even amongst non-students, unlike in the US where it's mainly been a student thing.
Facebook has its weird aspects, but it's not like a teenager's bedroom like MySpace is, and it's a nice clean design, easy to use, and has some nice privacy controls.
What FR needs to do is go with an advertising model and make the site simple and clean, and maybe focus more on the social network side than just a database of friends. Advertising doesn't mean banners all over the place mind. However being ITV owned, garish layout and bold adverts are more likely (like MySpace).