Warning: religious debate here. Should a news web site be open or closed, free or paid-for? There is no simple answer, of course, as hybrid models are a likely part of our future. But, first, let’s review the paid-for model I addressed in previous issues of the Monday Note as well as in the French version of Slate.
In a nutshell, paid is likely to become fashionable again under the following conditions:
- Big brands are more likely to erect tollbooths and balance what needs to remain free, in order to retain large audiences, against what they must monetize: the value-added part on their content.
- Transactional systems morph into aggregated micro-payments for quick and seamless few cents purchases or subscriptions renewals. The “mental cost” of the transaction must match its low monetary value.
- Tech platforms improve their performance: in two or three product generations, gizmos such as the Kindle, PlasticLogic tablets, or future iPhones finally do the job thanks to wireless connections, long battery life and resistance to everyday abuse. Just to get an idea of what’s looming, watch last week’s presentation of the new iPhone OS 3.0 features (go here and begin the show at time code 10:00 minutes) all is here: eBookstore, eNewstand system dedicated to publishers, iTunes powered subscriptions, etc.
News organizations will find a sustainable model here — and with Apple’s competitors.
Let’s turn to point #2: closed versus open. More