As the debates over monetising online and mobile content continue, Google and Apple have entered the fray supporting subscription for online content.
Apple was the first to offer an App for publishers of newspapers, magazines, video and music to charge subscriptions on their content at the Apple owned ITunes store. The company is giving content owners a chance to set the price and Apple will take 30% of the money earned through its app store.
Just as we were getting to understand the new offer from Apple which was expected to provide another revenue stream from struggling publishers, Google also unveiled another platform for publishers to charge for online content. Google announced that its One Pass service will give publishers 90% of the income earned through their system. Additionally Google offered to let publishers access subscription data which apple didn’t offer.
Of course online subscriptions and charging for online content is not new. Some media houses have long operated their individual or group subscription methods, but given that we are talking of online and reaching as many members of the online audience as possible with your content offer, none can claim the scalability of what Google and Apple offer.
Online publishers have for long been looking for how to charge subscriptions, offer metered access (allowing online users to access a particular level of content before requiring them to pay for further access), “freemium” content or single article sales, and the new offers from Apple and Google are indeed welcome.
But many people are wondering what this means for publishers and all content providers, especially how much of what is available online is worth buying or subscribing for. There has been an ongoing concern about the fact that people used to getting free content will unlikely subscribe or buy the same content they have been accessing for free.
I Personally think people can pay for good content, of course if it is well marketed to them (which Google and Apple are somehow offering). But the major question is how many publishers are developing content that is value added for online usage (as opposed to posting articles that were meant for newspapers, magazines, or videos aired on TV and radio scripts/clips? I think while the platforms to sell are good, they come with a challenge of indirectly requiring publishers to produce content worth selling online.
Will people pay for usual news which is reported by everyone in the same way? What kind of information will people be willing to pay for online? What about the loss in audience subscription or metered access requirements will bring, when selling adverts (based on audience size and quality) continues to raise considerable revenue for publishers? These and other questions need to be at the back of our mind as we look at if and how publishers can benefit from large scale content sale offers by Apple and Google.
I’m also wondering how and when Africa based publishers will be able to benefit from such apps. Apple store doesn’t offer opportunity to purchase in African currencies, while paypal currently cant be used to pay and get paid in more than 90% of the African countries. It means many Africans can neither buy nor earn as content providers on the Apple store.
Goggle says the service “will first be available to publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S., meaning it will be long before publishers in Africa can benefit from their online content selling offer.
We shall continue to look forward to the expansion of such applications to Africa, or developing specific online and mobile apps that can be utilised to benefit African publishers and buyers.