Friday, 26 March 2010

The Times They Are a-Chargin'

From Iain Dales great blog, I hear that the Times has announced they are going to charge £1/day to read their online content.

The business model for paying for content is changing in as much as the same way as the music industry is changing.

People will download songs for free, perhaps like the track and possibly buy the album(s) and pay for the concerts. And they will be exposed to a greater genre of music that they like and the artists will have to play more live gigs to generate revenue. I think this is a good thing and the music industry should leave the old business model behind and capitalise on a new model that allows many more artists and different flavours of music and originality into the market.

It is the same with the MSM: people are viewing free content from many more sources online now and with the introduction of blogs and other online vehicles are starting to see a wider range of opinions and viewpoints. The great thing about this is that people start to discuss issues rather than simply lap up the one-way news that is served to them on a daily basis. Blogs and online content is a two way street – people can discuss, dispute, agree and disagree and show proof or no proof of these matters.

If the MSM chose to charge for their content, then like the music industry, there will be people who will pay for that, but then there will be a growing number of people who won’t and will get their information from elsewhere.

The internet has changed most established business models significantly and irreversibly. Businesses cannot turn back the internet clock.

The broadcast visual media model is changing. Instead of watching a programme under the terms and conditions of the broadcaster (when and where) we now have the ability to record that programme to view later, to view it on a different platform, such as an iPhone and now the ability to watch what we want, when we want and where we want with the advent of such technologies such as IPTV.

A lot of this is free and puts pressure on such business models such as the UK TV licence that has disappeared from other countries such as New Zealand. It does not affect the quality of output per se: if there is a demand and market for content, it will be provided. And more importantly, it reduces the entry costs of being able to start your own broadcasting channels and levels the playing fields – it provide the potential to remove the monopolies.

The payment of this service will shift from licence fee to pay per view or adverts. But with technology, there will always be avenues for disrupting this process: from advert popup blockers to software that can strip the adverts out of pay per view content.

Ultimately, the internet will connect more people together than any industry has been able to do in the past. It will allow information to flow rapidly amongst local people for local issues and will allow the news of international events to be discussed all over the world. Transparency and discussion will prevail through the interconnectivity of the world and it will become more difficult to try and keep a control and monopoly of information while the people around the world can have access to this.

Companies are naturally resorting to traditional methods to protect their business models and monopolies. The internet presents an infrastructure than can provide the greatest tool for freedom that man can have and the potential for the greatest open free market for anyone, anywhere who has an entrepreneurial idea, to have a low cost method of entry and compete in an almost totally free market.

The internet is simply a tool. It can be used for greatness and it can be used for terror, depending on the behaviour of man. But for me, I think it’s the first invention I’ve seen that could literally free the entire world.


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