Sunday, August 23, 2009

Free vs. Fee - Learning a Foreign Language

I've written several times about my interest in the nuances of the freemium business model. I've also written about my struggles to learn some basic Chinese (Mandarin) both prior to our China Trip and since then.

So when I came across this article from Bill Gurley (VC) recently, it peaked my interest because of the intersection of these two recent passions. It highlights the differences between Rosetta Stone and Live Mocha, both in their business models (fee vs. free) and their approach to teaching (individual vs. social communities). As Mr.Gurley points out, free or freemium might not be the next generation of business models for everyone, but every company needs to consider how a competitor using those models could impact their business.

Having struggled with the Rosetta Stone model of teaching, I'm going to give the Live Mocha approach a try. I'm intrigued by the community aspects, as I truly believe that the real trick to learning a new language is putting it to use. I was willing to pay for Rosetta Stone in the past, but I truly believe that community-based learning is the way of the future. I hopeful that Live Mocha leads to better success.

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