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Paywalls and Internal Politics

January 24, 2011 13:30:00.000

The New York Times' new paywall just doesn't make much sense. Not the overall concept, just the specific implementation. Here's what they supposedly plan to do:

The person familiar with the matter said the Times has considered charging around $20 a month for the digital bundle and less than half that for the Web-only offering

But there's a problem with that approach, as Felix Salmon notes:

This strikes me as peculiar. The idea seems to be that if you want to use the NYT iPad app at all, that’ll cost you a hefty $240 per year, over and above the cost of the iPad itself. But if you want to read the nytimes.com website on your iPad, that’s probably free — and even if you’re in the minority of power users, it’ll still be less than half the price of the app. Essentially, the NYT is doing everything it can to drive its iPad-owning readers away from the app and towards the built-in browser.

Exactly - what would possess me to try their iPad app under this deal? Why not just stick with the website? If they want to attract me to a pay model (where the website is free until I cross a threshold), then they need to make it more attractive, not less.

This looks like the result of an internal political battle that the iPad backers at the Times lost. They get their app, but in a "guaranteed to lose" fashion. The website side will then point and laugh, and not lose any of their budget.

posted by James Robertson


Re: Paywalls and Internal Politics

[Thierry] January 24, 2011 16:11:48.116

I said that before, but not only there is a 'local' pricing issue: free website vs expensive dedicated app.

But they also ignore that reading paradigms have shifted. I love being able to pick articles from different newspaper. Sometimes just to get another perspective. Some other times, just to browse different topics.

With such model, with my current reading habits, I would have to pay NYT, WSJ, The Economist, Wired, and a dozen other information news .... full price. Probably +$2K/year?

We need to be able to buy one article at a time. Or even better, paying for a news plan! If something like Flipboard could be a broker and give an all-you-can-read model for $15 to $20/month, I would sign for it.

When are we going to have iTunes for news (several cents an article?), Pandora for news (streaming, skip-eable and focused to your interests articles $7/month?), MOG/Spotify for news (all-you-can-read for $15/months).

Re: Paywalls and Internal Politics

[swart] January 24, 2011 16:43:01.686

The weird part is the people who are making these pricing decisions don't seem to have used the app. Even with several recent updates it still crashes frequently, although you can say the same thing for Safari.

The worst part about Safari stability problems is the sites that are "iPad-enabled" (e.g. ABC and Apple's own developer site) seem to have nasty JavaScript leakage problems that can bring down the browser after only a few dozen page loads.

I hate to say it, but RSS is dying and my most reliable source of news these days is Google.

Re: Paywalls and Internal Politics

[anonymous] January 25, 2011 7:50:23.678

Its the NY Times. why would anyone even read it for free?

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