Why ‘paid for’ content models won’t work on tablets

By December 31, 2010 5 Comments

Fred Wilson has a great post up today arguing that the mobile web is really just like the wired web and that the economics of both are rapidly converging.  I particularly liked this passage where he talks about the inevitable failure of iPad magazine sales:

There is some discussion in the tech blogs today about why iPad magazine sales have been disappointing. I don’t understand why anyone would ever think that adding a presentation layer on top of web based content would make it something people would want to purchase when they are not willing to purchase the same content directly on the web.

A central issue with the Internet, no matter what device and presentation layer you use to access it, is that there is an unlimited amount of content available. Evan Williams calls it "a web of infinite information" in this chat with Om Malik. What is valuable is filtering and curation. Restricting access to content doesn’t work. Someone else’s content will get filtered and curated instead of yours. Scarcity is not a viable business model on the Internet.

Apple’s success over the past couple of years with a very different business model has raised hopes amongst publishers that somehow the mobile will be different from the web.  I can’t see it myself.  Moreover – betting against the Apple view of the world will be a smart thing to do over the next year or two.

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