Every time that I visit ECNext's Manta business intelligence portal it gets a little bit more slick and a little bit more plump with premium content. This time around the announcement is the addition of three years of company news archives from Newstex, which are being offered as premium content to both registered and non-registered visitors. Will there be tons of executives willing to put down ten U.S. dollars for a news story on General Motors? Probably not, but then again given that the Manta portal offers primarily high-end reports from D&B, Datamonitor and other sources an additional ten bucks for a news story may be just the thing for a busy executive to round out a shopping cart before they hit the checkout line. Think of it being like the candy bars next to the register - there for the asking.
Manta's a la carte approach to business intelligence reminds me of the high-end natural food stores that are sprouting up in more affluent neighborhoods. Not everyone will spring for a five dollar bag of lettuce, but there are enough that will to justify having a full range of premium products for that marketplace. While Google's new premium news archive provides a relatively unfocused approach to exposing a la carte news Manta is working to create a true high-end store for news and research tailored to the needs of high-caliber executives needing quick answers to support key decisions, with ad-supported content to help monetize the window shoppers. It may not be everyone's cup of tea for business information, but it seems to be filling a definite niche in the spectrum of online services available today.