Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
There are more business models on the Internet than you can shake
a stick at -- but very few of them seem to be working.
Advertising no longer produces sufficient revenue for most online
publications, subscriptions produce only a trickle of income and
little else seems to work.
So how can a website make money?
You can sell products or services -- but, if the Flying Pig is anything
to go by, even this isn't a guarantee of success.
So what's wrong -- what are the factors that seem to scuttle all these
I guess the most obvious problem is that people are always reluctant to part
with their hard-earned cash. You've got to not only offer them some real
value but also make it very easy to pay.
This is where most online publications fall flat on their face.
Internet entrepreneurs have long lamented the lack of a micro-payment
system that would allow them to sell online content by the page -- and
I don't see any solutions on the horizon.
However, the adult website market seems to have really gotten their
act together in this regard.
By pooling their resources, they've provided what amounts to a bulk-subscription
service that allows individuals to sign-up and pay-up just once but gain access
to a long list of sites.
In some ways, the service they offer is very similar to Microsoft's Passport
or the Liberty Alliance service from Sun.
So why hasn't this very successful authentication/subscription service
been extended to the general content market?
Could it be that most of the online content is simply retargeted print
or broadcast material, and that those who control it are just too stupid
or proud to acknowledge that the porn merchants have got something
very, very right?
Both as a Net user and as a content producer, I'd love to see someone
set up a general-purpose universal subscription/authentication service.
Maybe it would mean a rapid reduction in the amount of free content on the
Web (something which will eventually happen anyway) but it will also mean
that we might get better quality material -- because publishers will finally
be making enough money to justify re-investment.
What do you think? Would you pay $10/month if it meant that you could
gain access to hundreds of good quality content-rich websites?
And, just in case someone with half a brain and a fat wallet is reading --
remember that such a service could be started and run from right here in
New Zealand, yet service websites and web-surfers from all over the world.
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