Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weighing in on the NY Times paywall announcement

Ken Doctor, of Content Bridges, has a piece on the New York Times announcement that their pay wall goes up in 2011. Here is my favorite part:

What does "frictionless experience across multiple platforms," in the Times release this morning, mean?

I think this is one major move, if the Times can pull it off well and quickly. In the age of the smartphone, the coming tablet, and (coming a bit after that) the Internet-mediated livingroom TV monitor, readers are already coming to expect easy, and smart, access to the their content wherever, whenever. They also will come to expect -- we're seeing it in some iPhone apps already -- the stories they save on one device to be known by another; ditto email sharing lists, stock portfolios, favorite sports team preferenes. If the Times can provide such synchronicity, then readers who are asked to pay can understand the charge as, in part, an access charge.

We, Americans, love to pay for access -- think massive cable and wireless bills -- we just have thought digital news content should be free. At a panel I moderated yesterday in New York, Dow Jones consumer chief Todd Larsen, indicated a similar philosophy about universal access. One rub here to watch: who owns the customer relationship with the emerging tablet. Amazon has stubbornly clung to the position that it will "own" the customer (hey, wait a minute, that's me), while news companies -- getting a glimmer of an all-device-access future -- have pushed back, and are negotiating with Amazon's Kindle competitors, to keep their customer touch. [Reformatted for TNM.]
Read the entire piece here.