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More on micropayments

by Giles Turnbull -- 2000/11/17

As WriteTheWeb has mentioned before, micropayments were a big idea that never got anywhere. Now Roger Ebert has come up with a persuasive argument for their widespread adoption.

With more and more internet-based businesses going under through lack of cash, Ebert makes a simple case for re-thinking the dotcom publishing revenue model:

Sooner or later the free lunch has to end. Information wants to be free, but information providers want to be paid.

Advertising, he says, doesn't make the kind of money that publishers hoped it would. Subscriptions are off-putting to users. The only long-term revenue stream that works will be one based on micropayments.

He's right. And it's worth noting the micro element of micropayments. Charging anything more than a few pennies, or a few cents, for a single item of content will turn users away. Prices will have to be low to encourage people to buy on impulse, and (possibly) discourage people from pirating content from their friends.

It has to happen because the web has nowhere else to go for funding. The money has to come from somewhere, and as time goes on it will be harder and harder to find.

Ebert notes that popular sites will make more money. Simple democracy - the winner is the one with the most votes. But don't get us started on that one again...

  • Related link:
    The Dallas Morning News has published an amusing and informative look at the latest situation regarding digital replacements for cash, and their use for micropayments.