The money flows of the Solid ecosystem

To find out which business models are viable, you do need to know where there is possible income that can be generated, and where the expenses lie.

Since we separate data from applications, you have two entities: the data pod, and the applications.

To have an application up and running, the app needs to be built, hosted, owned and used.
To have a data pod, the pod needs to be built, hosted, owned and accessed (by applications).

In the end,the people building and hosting the applications need to be paid.

So how does the money flow? And where is the value?
Let’s take a look at the picture below: It represents the different roles within the SOLID ecosystem. You can assume that a party can assume one or more roles together.

At the bottom, you find two additional, optional types of income, that might help smooth the money stream: Subsidies and advertisement.

Theapplication provides insight for the app user, as does the data pod for the podowner (although the insights come through applications as well, in which case the pod owner has the role of app user).

It is thus the main question: how much is the app user willing to pay for the application? Thus: what is the value of getting insights about the pod owner?

Because the App user is the one that gets the value, all the other costs must thus -directly or indirectly, be paid by the app user.

The app user needs to pay the App owner, who then can pay the app builders, who can then pay the personnel.
It is the app owner that does take the risk: the app user will not necessarily pay up front, before the app is built.
Additionally, if the app is hosted, this cost needs to be covered by the app owneror user as well as the user of the app.

On the Podside, the pod owner needs to pay for the pod hosting and managed services. Ofcourse, the pods need to be built, which the pod host (managed services) needs to buy.

Having sight on the different roles, now gives us the possibility to see different business models that can group different roles together.

For example:

A company orders an app to be built that provides customer insights.
The app host, owner and user is thus the same.
He offers the pod owner exclusive offers, or nice discounts in exchange of the usage of the data (hoping the owner will buy a service or product they offer,and the pod owner needs).

The app,for example, is built by Konsolidate at a fixed price.

In the example above, we consider a pod providing company, that offers the people abasic datapod under freemium conditions.
When the pod owner needs more data storage or data access, he can buy additional speed and space to have the desired volume and velocity that suit his needs.

Because anno 2022, few people have a data-pod, a government may decide to subsidize this company in exchange for a freemium account for all it’s citizens, effectively lowering the investment cost.
Alternatively, like a utility company, the government can assign a free amount of data storage and usage per person at any pod-providing company of his choice.


The next example is how the current main stream approach would work within a solid ecosystem.

An app hosted and used by the person who owns the pod, is being paid by the app owner through advertisement.

Finally, we’ll show a set-up that is quite similar to the set-up of a social media company.

On the one hand, there are the freemium users who get applications, storage and servicing for free, while 3rd parties pay, using applications that shows insights and information from the user who use the platform.

By mixing and matching the different roles, you can come up with different viable business models.

Which roles do you or does your company or organisation want to take?

A final issue that comes on the table when looking at these flows is:
Maybe it would be good to develop some kind of micro-payment service that can be put into Solid applications, that make a small payment to the datapod each time it is accessed. Please reach out if you have thoughts on this.

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Christophe Cop

Christophe Cop

Christophe is a data-scientist with a background in psychology and statistics. He has been an enthusiast of personal data control ever since GDPR came into effect. Co-founder of Konsolidate and SOLID Project Lead