Monday, 19 October 2009

The Murdoch Paywall

I've got popcorn ready for the Poseidon Adventure level of epic fail that's going to come from this (via Roy Greenslade's blog):-

As I understand it, general news will still be free but exceptional columnists such as Jeremy Clarkson, Steven Howard and the big-name celebrity 'writers' like Terry Venables, Harry Redknapp and Ian Wright will only be available in the paid-for package...

"Sports will be a key seller, particularly with The Sun service. Subscribers will be offered a free direct-to-your-mobile results service, there will be videos of goals and cut-price offers from all the sports goods and clothing manufacturers.

"This, wrapped up with Page 3 girls at their most alluring, bingo and puzzle games offering huge cash prizes plus a promotional link with Sky will, they hope, make it an offer too good to refuse."
OK, Clarkson's a decent columnist, but in the end, how much better is he than the free options? Sure, I'd miss reading his columns, but I can get the likes of The Daily Mash for free. Sport? I'm not one for sport. Are guys like Venables and Wright anything special? I'm not just asking if they're the best, but if they're better by enough to warrant someone forking out the cash. Goals? There seem to be goals on YouTube. Cut price deals on sports clothing? I'm sure you'll be able to get the same deals elsewhere. But finally: Tits. The idea that getting to see Page 3 girls on the internet is something worth paying money for is just risible. You can go to Google Image Search and get 7 million pages of tits to look at, and most of them aren't the sort you find in your garden.

The problem is that this idea is based on entitled sense of business, the idea that as they've always made $200 million of profit, that that should ever remain the case. But throughout our history we have seen technology come along and ruin certain people's livelihood. I'm sure that Tyndale's bible didn't do those latin speakers a lot of good as English guys could now do preaching. And I doubt that innkeepers were happy when the railways started getting built and people didn't have to stop for the night with their horses. Blacksmiths had to find something else to do when the car arrived. And in recent years, typesetters got put out of business by the computer.

Running based on your entitlement, that somehow, the old models can fit into the new world rarely work. IBM succeeded after Microsoft beat them on the desktop by recognising that hardware wasn't where the money was at - services were.

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