Monday, August 27, 2007

NOT AGAIN! Micropayments resurrected.

I read this article with some trepidation - another push for totally commercializing the net. Although the author makes a point about iTunes sales being a type of micropayment and Google AdSense being another example, I can't help but shudder at the thought that web content should all be viewed as a direct revenue source. And we talk about the digital divide now!

"The idea of micropayments — charging Web users tiny amounts of money for single pieces of online content — was essentially put to sleep toward the end of the dot-com boom. In December 2000, Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in New York University’s interactive telecommunications program, wrote a manifesto that people still cite whenever someone suggests resurrecting the idea. Micropayments will never work, he wrote, mainly because “users hate them.”

But wait. Amid the disdain, and without many people noticing, micropayments have arrived — just not in the way they were originally envisioned. The 99 cents you pay for a song on iTunes is a micropayment. So are the tiny amounts that some operators of small Web sites earn whenever someone clicks on the ads on their pages. Some stock-photography companies sell pictures for as little as $1 each.

“Micropayments are here,” said Benjamin M. Compaine, a consultant and lecturer at Northeastern University who specializes in media economics, “they just have not evolved in the way that everybody expected.”

From the earliest days of the Web until around the time of Mr. Shirky’s manifesto, the expectation was that a handful of companies would provide platforms — or perhaps a single ubiquitous platform — that would enable Web users to pay a penny, a dime or a dollar for a bit of content such as a newspaper article, a comic strip or a research report. Simply clicking a link would complete the transaction.

Sellers of content — at the time, newspaper companies — were among the most interested in the idea as they looked for revenue that did not depend on advertising...

Bill Densmore, a founder of the payments firm Clickshare, a former newspaper publisher and now a consultant and a director of a citizens’ media project at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, has been promoting micropayments from the beginning.

He envisions Web publishers joining with one another and with producers of other content to create huge networks, sharing users and, in effect, revenue.

For example, he said, a large newspaper could sell subscriptions that would allow its readers to download music from iTunes or Rhapsody, read articles from regional papers, and watch movies and TV shows from YouTube or Comedy Central."


Why do we need to reinvent the gatekeepers!!! We have access to all of these things by paying our ISPs. It would be just like the cable companies who "select" what channels we can get at what tier level and you end up paying for a lot of trash just to get a handful of channels that you actually want to watch! NO THANKS!!
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