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Porn Sites To The Rescue? 11 July 2002 Edition
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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 good ideas?

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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.

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    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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