On Micropayments: “News is not like an iTunes song; it’s perishable.”

By • Feb 19th, 2009 • Category: 26th Story, Big Ideas, Business, Weblogs

freakonomicsWould you pay a tenth of a cent to read Frank Rich?

And how would you feel about having one micropayment system track your every move online? The idea that a functional micropayment system could somehow defibrillate the newspaper industry and solve “the free problem” is nothing new (enormous logistical challenges as well as questions about privacy have prevented anyone from making it work thus far). But yesterday’s roundtable discussion on the Freakonomics blog got the wheels turning in my mind. Here were some of my favorite responses:

“News is not like an iTunes song; it’s perishable.” – Marshall W. Van Alstyne

“It’s an unavoidable relationship: for good information to flow from journalists to readers, proportional revenue must flow the other way.” – William Baker

“Put another way, the fantasy that small payments will save publishers as they move online is really a fantasy that monopoly pricing power can be re-established over we users. Invoking the magic word “micropayments” is thus grabbing the wrong end of the stick; if online publishers had that kind of pricing power, micropayments wouldn’t be necessary. And since they don’t have that pricing power, micropayments won’t provide it.” – Clay Shirkey


- Julia

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  • http://youthspecialties.com/blog adam mclane

    I have to say, this isn’t appealing to me at all. I think if more newspapers embraced the web like the New York Times has… they’d do OK.

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  • http://www.mass-ter-mind.com Key information guy

    Great Post. I love reading different types of news. Thanks