Bye Bye Britannica

Britannica is no longer going to print, it will be completely online. It used to sell about 8,000 printed sets each year (down from about 100,000 from the early 1990s). And these low sales were proving unprofitable – so it finally ditched the printed version. But you can still access the +400,000 articles online through a monthly subscription.

Competition from Wikipedia

But can it survive online when there is such strong competition from Wikipedia (the top 10 most visited site on the internet.) With over 20 million articles (~4 million in English), Wikipedia has become the defacto source of first-level research into most topics (not just history, science, geography, but also current events, pop culture and new technology.)

From my practical point of view, Wikipedia is my first go-to-site when doing homework on client or product. It may have limitations in the academic world (because of lack of reliability) but it works well for my business setting.

Hoovers vs. LinkedIn Analogy

A similar comparison can be drawn with Hoovers and LinkedIn. Hoovers dedicated staff vet through data to ensure quality listings, but have a database of mostly major and prominent businesses. Yet, on LinkedIn you can find the smallest and obscure start-ups because of its crowd-sourcing techniques. But which of these techniques is more successful? Have a look at revenue figures of each company from Hoovers.

hoovers revenue vs. linkedin annual revenue 2010-2011
Looks like Britannica has its work cut out for itself, especially once Wikipedia gets reliable enough to be citied in Academica. Then its “Bye Bye Britannica” for sure.

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Zaki Usman

Hello, I'm the founder and CEO at ShoutEx. I like to blog about marketing, mobile and web topics. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

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