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March 31, 2009

Microsoft Shutters Encarta

And really, why does anyone need this product with so many information sources looming at one's fingertips.  I remember stories from the start of Encarta when Microsoft allegedly approached Britannica about collaborating on a product.  As most print publishers believed back then, selling your content on CD-ROM devalued the information and cannibalized print sales.  No deal.  The result was Encarta, with Microsoft successfully eating into sales for EB.  The lesson was not lost as Britannica channeled their reputation into a successful subscription based web site with licensing terms for schools.  Now, as ever, Microsoft needs to figure out what businesses it's in, and the encyclopedia business is apparently not one of them.  Ironically, in light of their first encounter, Britannica lives.  More in PC Magazine.

March 31, 2009 | Permalink


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Wikipedia, with a 97% share of the online encyclopedia market, has forced Microsoft to shut down Encarta. How long will it be before Wikipedia claims the prize scalp of Encyclopaedia Britannica?

Encyclopaedia Britannica did not think that an open source product like Wikipedia would significantly challenge the credibility of its brand. They were dead wrong and Encyclopaedia Britannica's staff seriously misread the global market. They are now very concerned about the widespread use of a free Wikipedia vs their paid subscription model. From a corporate and financial perspective, Encyclopaedia Britannica is in significant trouble.

It will be interesting to see if Encyclopaedia Britannica survives, but recent indications do not look good. It is the combination of a) the success of Wikipedia and b) improved search engines that has put financial pressure on Encyclopedia Britannica over recent years. Many libraries, schools & individuals are questioning the need to pay for sets of expensive books, or to subscribe to Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, when the content is free on the internet, and much more comprehensive.

Posted by: S Stepens | Apr 11, 2009 3:11:01 PM

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