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punchBy any standards The Punch Newspapers is a favourite of most Nigerians because it offers deep insight and objectivity in its publications hence I have been addicted to the Website to get the juiciest news. So it came to me as a shocker when a few months ago they decided that access to the hitherto free full News reports on the Website would be possible only on subscription.

Naturally I tuned off and went searching for some other free Online Newspapers to fuel my addiction to News. What I found lacked the rich content I had become accustomed to, so I swung back occasionally hoping that the Punch Business Managers would come back to reality(people ain’t gonna pay) and keep the market they are losing. Did they disappoint? I guess they didn’t, albeit in a queer way.

I had made an interesting discovery that at seemingly random clicks on links to News stories I would be able to read the full stories without paying a dime because the Login Page doesn’t come up. Instead the name and account expiration date of some registered user appears on the Web Page and I get to savour all the news story. If you clicked again you might get to see the Login Page and if you clicked again it went away.

I wondered if this was a twisted gimmick by the Newspaper but apparently it looks like a big security flaw in the Web Application which goes to promote lack of consumer confidence in E-Commerce Solutions in Nigeria. I mean why I should pay, when some other dude gets to read it for free and my identity cannot be protected. A Newspaper as big as Punch should know better than give their job to quacks to handle.

Appropriate and secure handling of user sessions is fundamental in Web Application Design; let’s always adopt the best practices. Phew!

Femi Malomo
Femi Malomo is a Computer Scientist and Software Developer with over 10 years experience spanning Java, .NET, Embedded as well as Web Technologies. An avid reader, researcher and astute investor, he is the CEO of TekXtreme Solutions a Lagos based Technology Solutions company. His hobbies include meeting new people, Reading, Video games and Traveling. email:femi.malomo@tekxtremeonline.net

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4 Comments

  1. Am happy PUNCH has finally listened and followed our advice here.They have opened up their website for the public to read and enjoy.They were almost loosing it…the online battle!

  2. What an excellent blog, I’ve added your feed to my RSS reader. 🙂

  3. Very true

  4. Mr. Femi, That’s a good observation you have made. Reading this piece about the flaw on PUNCH’s website quickly brought to my mind the issue of the introduction of a subscription fee for online readers and how successful this idea will be.

    The idea, for a brand that is a leader offline looks great but looking at it from an expert view as an Internet Marketing Consultant, the idea is most likely not going to flourish.

    There is this basic fact about building businesses online they need to understand, you don’t approach online business with the same strategies that work offline.

    Branding online is quite different from branding offline and more importantly being a market leader offline in any niche doesn’t automatically make the same business a leader online.

    The two media- online and offline should be approached differently. To maximize the potentials of the Internet, two approaches to the Internet should be considered; you either approach the Internet as a Medium or as a Business depending on the type of product or service you offer. Also note that the Interactive nature of the Internet has also made it possible for such ideas not to strive, readers dictate what they want online and they have a wide range of options to choose from.

    I am quite sure that the traffic (number of people visiting PUNCH website) has reduced drastically following the introduction of a subscription fee and also the flaw as the article pointed out. What was Alexa.com ranking of the site before and after the fee has been introduced?

    Its obvious that most unique visitors to the website have drifted to other newspaper websites where they don’t have to pay online subscription. It is traffic that adds value to a website, smart advertisers will always ask for statistics of unique visitors to a website before they will advertise on the portal.

    A business model that works is giving out free content and then selling advertisement with the traffic, simple! Ask big businesses like Google, they offer free stuffs to attract users and then sell advertisement. And online news is free, except you are offering other specialized services or back-end products.

    An entirely different business model should be fashioned to strategically position PUNCH online, sincerely their success story offline has nothing to do with this except the fact that they have the money to implement projects faster, which online business demands (get there first and rule).
    Hey! For online game, the rules are different-the e-branding strategies!

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