What Kind of Content is Worth Buying?. If we are ever going to find ways for content providers on the Internet to make money, we're going to have to figure out what it is about information that people will pay for. I'm not sure there's much there, but we owe it to ourselves to try to dope this out.
Content consists essentially of news, opinion/commentary on the news, in-depth information of a practical (how-to) nature, focused research, and entertainment. None of these categories is entirely self-describing nor are they mutuallly exclusive. There are, for example, databases of focused research designed to entertain (a la Internet Movie Database.
News is too freely available to entice many people to pay for it. Opinion is a trust issue: sources of viewpoints who are deemed trustworthy might be able to get someone to pay for it, but probably only devout followers. In-depth how-to stuff might draw a payment, but it's a one-time thing and probably narrowly focused and therefore of limited total market potential. Focused research has some winning players (Meta, Giga, and others) but their Internet revenue tends to be a tiny fraction of their off-line revenue. And entertainment is highly competitive; breaking in new is hard.
As I contemplate this, I'm reminded of a bold venture I thought would take off like gangbusters a few years ago. A daily sports newspaper was launched with much fanfare. I was an immediate devotee. But you had to go to the newsstand every day to buy it. No home delivery. It didn't last long.
Then I remembered a New York Times piece I read several years ago. The basic message was simple: Americans will not pay for information or education but they will seriously overpay for convenience. How else explain bottled water, bottled tea, individually wrapped portions of peanut butter (I'm not making that one up)?
So what we need to do is to figure out how to make Internet-based content so easily accessible that consumers will pay us for the convenience of the packaging.
I have no clue what that is, but it seems to me to be the right direction. Anyone know of any successes in this area?