Paid iPad content – why it is important

The enormous hype around the iPad has also generated a lot of backlash against the flow of paid for iPad content now pouring out from media publishers all over the world.

Pay for content, are you kidding?

Many different payment models are now tested on a large scale:

Time magazine is charging $4.99 per issue of their iPad ‘magazine’. A social media blogger calls this “An act of insanity“.

Wall Street Journal charges $3.99 per week.

Financial Times has a different model with a sponsor that offers the Financial Times iPad app for free for two months. From the article about it in the Guardian:
“Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson says his mag’s iPad app is an opportunity to “reset the economics“. What that means – mobile apps, as a new technology, have no pre-existing culture of only-free content consumption, as the web does, offering an opportunity to charge from the start this time.”
And Chris is the author of the famous article “Free“!

The Swedish publisher Bonniers have launched Popular Science on the iPad at the same price as for printed mag, $4.99 , this is the first magazine using their online platform Mag+

Lots of critics are complaining about charging money for online content and just say that it will never work. The Harvard Business Review has one of the more refined articles: “The iPad won’t save the publishing industry from itself

These critics are right about that in many cases it will be difficult to charge for online content, but how about coming up with some new, better revenue ideas then? This is much harder than just complaining, but it needs to be done now.

Start experimenting with payment models!

The iPad itself will not be the universal solution to the problem of online media revenue. But I am very glad that the iPad has started this flow of payment experiments that can also be used for all other forms of web-based media. There will of course not be just one successful model. There will be many different models that will eventually work for different types of content and target groups. We also need new, smarter forms for advertising and sponsoring of content.

There are many other ways to finance media production and distribution online. For example, why not have a credit system that encourages people to contribute and get credits that they can use to buy more content? For pictures, stories, comments, local news tips etc.

There is a big need now for lots of creative experiments!

People want to pay for content

When Apple introduced the iTunes music store, the sales of iPods exploded and they have since then sold billions of songs online. Apple understood and solved the consumer’s need; “I like this song, I want it now” and made it easy to buy and listen to music.

And look at the cable TV companies: millions of people gladly pay lots of money per month to get commercial-free programs.

The whole media sector is in a global digital disruption period now that we have only seen the beginning of. The only thing we can be certain of is that our media consumption will not be the same in only a few years time and that some old media companies will die the dinosaur death while others will manage to transform themselves and evolve. There will also be many new players out the, creating totally new types of media experiences online based on the new platforms that we see now.

Exciting times are ahead!

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Henrik Ahlén

I am an eHealth Strategist in Stockholm, Sweden I drive eHealth development projects from needs analysis and idea generation to service design and implementation. See my LinkedIn profile:

2 thoughts on “Paid iPad content – why it is important”

  1. I definitely think there is room for paid content, such as magazines. But I don´t think people are willing to pay as much for digital versions of magazines as print versions.

    But the big question ahead is about sharing and sharability. How will the publishers allow discussions and sharing of the material in their apps? If they refuse to acknowledge those oppurtunities they run the risk of being reduced to content sellers, just shuffling texts and pictures.

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