Stop the presses…if there were presses to stop that is. Obviously, blogs, social networking and instant messaging have changed the way people get their news, but one major facet of all this is that it has (mostly) been free. Most major news organizations launched Web sites a decade ago and over the years the coverage has moved to an ad-based revenue model — or some other system that didn’t involve paid content.
This has been true as well for the third screen, but this week could go down as when it begins to change again. The Wall Street Journal announced that it would begin charging users to read the paper on mobile devices such as the BlackBerry and iPhone. If this is a success expect other papers, such as The New York Times to follow suit — then again the WSJ has a history of charging for online content while many other big name papers have not in the past.
But the question of course is whether users will actually pay? In the case of the Journal it is actually an interesting model that the paper is attempting. While it was believed (as much as rumors can be believed) that subscribers would be able to access the model edition, the best they’ll get is a discount. The current announced pricing plan would offer the mobile Web edition to print subscribers for $1 a week, while non-subscribers would pay $2 a week.
This seems like a reasonable amount to pay, and considering that many companies have gone to a “micro-transaction” business model $2 isn’t really all that bad. The problem is that it will require convincing those who have gotten the content for free to suddenly pay something for it.
Of course this isn’t entirely a surprise either. Rubert Murdoch, CEO of Newscorp (which bought the Journal last year) announced earlier this year that such a move would be taking place. He announced the move this week at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York, with the pay model starting in about a month or two.
Rumors & Releases: T-Mobile/Sprint Merger in the Works?
The big spin in the rumor mill this week is that T-Mobile might be looking to purchase Sprint to compete with the larger powerhouses in the mobile sector. But would now be a good time for T-Mobile to try and buy Sprint? On the one hand T-Mobile trails AT&T and Verizon, along with Sprint. While T-Mobile had success last fall with the HTC-produced G1, the first Google Android powered phone, the company hasn’t exactly been drawing in customers with a slew of notable handsets. Sprint was able to get a minor hit from the Palm Pre, but so far little has been done to make it a true business hit.
On the other hand, the Feds are watching the mobile business sector very closely. Would regulators even approve such a merger or take over?
Well, on the one hand, regulators might agree that a handful of large players are better for mobile subscribers, as each service would be more evenly matched. On the other hand, regulators might think this just further reduces choice for consumers.