Sunday, February 08, 2009

Written Content Pricing & Delivery - from Time Magazine

Couple of interesting articles in the Feb 16 issue of Time around online news content... focusing both on the financial viability of the companies that publish it (online and in print) and on the delivery mechanism of that content.

The first piece is by Walter Isaacson, formerly a managing editor of Time Magazine, and details his views on how to make this whole financially viable thing work. The cover story titled "How to Save Your Newspaper" espouses an idea that Apple has made ubiquitous through it's iTunes Music Store... micro-payments.

It's an interesting idea in that it drills down further from the idea of online subscriptions (which are usually on a monthly basis) and questions why content couldn't be received on a micro-basis (with costs that could be anywhere upwards from a penny). This would enable the organizations that create that content to remain open for business and in essence, keep the industry alive. Isaacson's assertion is that even though it would be different than the current mostly-free model around web news content, the idea of paying Apple $.99 per song on iTunes likely seemed revolutionary to those getting content free on Napster.

The second piece around written content from this issue of Time focuses not on the type of content itself, but rather on the delivery mechanism. Whether it be a newspaper, magazine, book or other printed material, there's efforts from multiple companies to figure out the best type of mobile electronic reader for that content, and to deliver that. This is the topic covered in the story "The Race for a Better Read" which looks at both current handheld offerings and what the future may hold.

The best known option out there is the "Kindle" handheld reader from Amazon, but competition will be likely coming in the future. Some companies to keep an eye on would be the Silicon Valley startup Plastic Logic (which is being led by a former HP manager I've met) or Apple if they (as rumored) get into the market with a larger version of the iTouch. Also mentioned in the article is the Adobe AIR software program that serves as a platform for material to to be written onto.


Not necessarily related to this topic, but two other things of interest I recently found from Time...

The book "How We Decide" by Jonah Lehrer is about the psychology of how consumers make purchase decisions and reviewed in the same Feb 16 Time issue.

From is a listing with detailed descriptions on Time's 50 Best Websites of 2008. Interesting stuff.