How we’ll be paying for content in 2013


Recently there have been some innovations in the micropayment space, or as I like to call them when a unit price drops below 5 cents, a “nano-payments”.

I have been discussing for a while how I think the future of the Internet will move from a free model that we all enjoy, to a paid for model. However that paid model will consist of tiny, tiny costs.

The free model just doesn’t make economical sense. [Good quality] content costs money to produce, let alone bandwidth, servers, and other factors that my parents don’t need to consider when they watch iPlayer or read their favourite news website.

So I think that in a few years, we’ll be paying a tiny amount for Internet searches, and informational web pages. We won’t want to subscribe relatively higher monthly amounts. This is a fatally flawed system and was the downfall of record companies – we don’t want to buy a complete album, just a single track for 79p. It took ten years for record companies to understand this consumer buying power. 

Now I see newspaper sites moving in the same direction – forcing users to subscribe when we want a choice of publications during the month.

So I think we’ll log into a central organisation and we’ll be charged a few pence per web transaction, and that organisation will pay tiny amounts to each website we use.

We are heading in this direction already via Amazon and Google. Amazon Glacier allows users and companies to back up data for 1 US cent per Gb per month. That’s less than an English penny – a nano-payment.

Google offers businesses to upload huge, huge datasets to it’s BigQuery ‘system’. Batch queries cost 2 cents and other queries cost 3.5 cents.

Both these systems are designed primarily for business use, but we can expect to start seeing similar, tiny pricing models for consumers in the next few months.

2 thoughts on “How we’ll be paying for content in 2013

  1. Very interesting analysis Brad. You may be absolutely right and time will tell, but for me it’s hard to envisage the kind of sea change in attitudes this would require from people right now. It’s kind of like free bank accounts – the banks moan and say they need to reimpose banking charges but if they do that one of them will just break rank and offer free accounts to claim a competitive advantage.

  2. You’re right that it will require a paradigm shift, however I cannot see the current model of ad funded content lasting forever. Moving back to a subscription for each and every content source seems a step in the wrong direction. It’s like moving from individual MP3s back to forcing users to buy albums again.I find it interesting that the technology [of micropayments] has now been set up before the commercial model, which is always an interesting progression!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.