Image courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik
On the latter subject, my personal view is that content cannot stay free for the long term. Our children will look back on the web and ask us what is was like living in a bubble of free video (iPlayer), free radio (any radio station’s website/ iPhone app), free high quality music (Spotify), free text content (over 99% of websites), free storage (YouTube, Flickr, etc.), free search (Google, etc.) – it’s all free free free. I think we will answer our children by saying “Yes, it was a pretty cheap time – companies advertised on these sites, and we thought that covered the costs” – at least, this is the public’s perception.
So what will replace this massive amount of free content and free applications?
At the Premiership event I said that in the future we will have some sort of e-wallet, and each web page that you navigate to, and each search will take fractions of a penny out of your wallet. Listening to music might cost a little more, and video might cost a little more than video. The funds from your e-wallet will be redirected in part to your ISP and a part to the content owner. A bit like local and premium rate phone numbers – some money goes to the telco provider, and some to the company who picks up the phone. My gut feel is that a regular user will spend £10-20 (in today’s money) per month on this e-wallet.
That was all last September, and this week there was an article on TechCrunch (thanks to James at Endava for pointing this out) which described a new service called Flattr, which will adopt a similar-ish model. Flattr’s model is more proactive though – the content owner needs to install a Flattr button, and the user needs to press the button for funds to go to that owner. It’s a start though.