Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

iPhone Users: We’ll Pay for Content

for the birdsHow do you get Web users to pay for content? Get an iPhone into their hands.

That’s one conclusion you can draw from a new survey showing that people who own Apple (AAPL) handsets are more willing to pay for stuff than the average Internet surfer.

It’s a U.K. survey, conducted by the Olswang media law firm, but my hunch is that you’d see similar results in the U.S. And given that consumers look much less likely to pay for stuff than publishers and distributors would like, it’s worth chewing on. Guardian:

The survey showed that 58% of people would pay to access online a film just released in cinemas, 52% would pay for access to a film that will not be on DVD for at least two months and 40% would pay to access a film which is already on DVD or pay-TV. Looking at solely iPhone users, however, those figures jump to 73%, 67% and 54% respectively….

News content, however, remains a tough online sell. The survey asked how willing consumers would be to buy a newspaper article or column which could be read on a computer or portable device such as a phone or e-reader. Only 19% of respondents expressed any willingness to pay–though that did increase to 30% among iPhone users.

I’ve repeatedly been skeptical that consumers will pay for something solely because it’s on a mobile device–this is the key idea behind the magazine industry’s digital plans–but I do think there are some cases where this might work.

My own anecdotal confirmation: My household just dropped $6 for three Pixar shorts for an iPhone 3G in a desperate attempt to provide some electronic babysitting/soothing. This, despite the fact that everything we bought is also available for free on YouTube. When you need the stuff, you can’t be dependent on a wireless connection.

Here’s one of the clips we spent $1.99 on:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus