Is the Free Web in Danger? Plus, What's Next for Steve Jobs?

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Yes, the economic sky is still falling for tech companies. Despite glimmers of hope in the markets and data...
Yes, the economic sky is still falling for tech companies. Despite glimmers of hope in the markets and data, advertising, which is traditionally a key source of income for both online content producers and application creators, isn't expected to rebound till long after the economy is on the right track. That means, at least in PC Mag editor-in-chief (and occasional TechVi guest) Lance Ulanoff's view, the end of the free web is coming. Soon. Is he on th emoney? And more importantly, will you fight for your free content? We ask Technologizer founder Harry McCracken, along with Brian Heater of PC Mag. Harry sees other platforms like the Kindle primed for innovation, since people are currently successfully charging consumers real dollars, and people seem to be paying. Brian's take is similar, pointing out that since the free cat is out of the bag, it's going to be awfully difficult to get it back in. My hope is someone will want to pay for content, maybe by going to an NPR style of begging for money. Someone's gotta do it. (Oh, and if you want to give us cash, we're more than willing to accept, for the record.) We also talk about the news that Steve Jobs won't be the main keynote speaker for Apple's upcoming World Wide Developers Conference. Brian mentions that it might be a bit of a red herring, given the carefully worded press release, and that Apple's "One More Thing..." might be Jobs' appearance. Harry, on the other hand, thinks regardless of whether Steve steps up to the plate, Apple has plenty of good leadership that haven't dropped the ball thus far, despite Stevie J's day-to-day micromanaging absence. What's your take? How crucial is Steve Jobs to the future of Apple in the presentation role? Could he pop in here and there without being the main presenter and still have the draw to keep up the reality distortion field? Also, is there any content you'd pay for (other than TechVi, naturally)? What's the maximum amount you'd think about investing, or do you think content will figure out how to be free, regardless of ad dollars?
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