Rita McGrath at Harvard Business Review has written a blog post on why she hates micropayments. Micropayments are financial transactions involving very small sums of money (see Wikipedia). For online publishing, a small fee would allow you to view the content for a certain period of time or for a certain number of articles.
Personally, I'm not sold on the concept of micropayments for content which is probably why I was lured to Ms. McGrath's article in the first place.
The idea has been around a long time — at least since the mid-to-late 90s — with both supporters and detractors weighing in. Millions have been lost by companies seeking to capitalize on streams of micropayments, almost all of which eventually crashed and burned. Myself, when confronted with a request to chip in 99 cents for a one-time glimpse at an article or $2.99 for a week's worth (as some of my local newspapers are doing) — well, I close that window and go away.
The author of the article discusses further the importance for any payment system adopted to consider "how the payment link of customers' consumption chains fits into their total experience". Micropayment systems have a tall order in that they need to be seamless, transparent, and achieve inevitability. Even grimmer for publishers, it's not only the micropayment experience that needs to be improved but also the non-micropayment systems too.
For the past few years, I've paid a yearly subscription to the Wall Street Journal for the print publication and the online subscription. With my yearly renewal coming up very soon, I've decided to discontinue my online subscription to the WSJ. Why would I do that? There are some very basic reasons to why I'm dropping WSJ.com. I rarely find myself reading the online content of the WSJ. I either already read the stories in the print version of the WSJ or I have found myself already familiar with the news story because I read a similar story posted elsewhere online. Stopping by the WSJ.com, unlike CNN or FoxNews, never became a daily ritual for me.