Paying for electrons and the content / service they represent

Free | moneyWe’ve all heard the stories of $1 apps for smartphones or tables selling millions of copies. I am fascinated by this phenomina when most of the apps are available in a similar form for free. OK, there are some adds that may pop up and some designers have left out some features in the free version but is that really enough for someone to part with a dollar? I guess so.

It’s then not a surprise that other online content is going the same way. I recently flicked to the New York Times website as part of my procrastination portfolio, clicked on a headline and was confronted with the image below:

NYT pay for content

It seemed that my “options” were to subscribe to the content and the usual $15 – $30 fee was now only 99c for the first 4 months. We might look back at this cast and laugh at that figure but that’s what it is in 2012 money. The proposition of paying for what I used to get for free might rattle one’s sense of fairness, might make one grateful for what has come before, but has posed some interesting questions:

  • Should we expect free online news/content/apps?
  • Is advertising to support the websites future-proof or will everything online come at a cost in the future (especially as access costs have decreased substantially and should continue to do so)?
  • What happens if google / facebook etc decide to start paying for their service? Do they keep the data until you pay?

We’ve seen a short period of time from free youtube (and similar streaming video sites) videos to advert-laden clips with the same true for some online magazine sites. The internet has transformed the way we access information and even croudsourced content costs money to provide: Wikipedia seeks donations (real or inflated reasons aside) to keep running. Facebook is now charging to get your message across more effectively (see questions above – the slippery slope may have started).

The internet isn’t free. But does that all mean a user-pays model is the best way forward? What are the pros, cons, and alternatives?? I may muse over this and post but am interested in thoughts from the floor…


About meetal

Just a guy with some thoughts, hoping to improve each day.
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