Findings from the 2010 Digital Future Project released this month:
- 49% of Internet users have tried free micro-blogging services like Twitter
- 0% of them would be willing to pay for it.
That’s zero (Z-E-R-O) percent. As in nobody.
As Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future, noted:
“Such an extreme finding that produced a zero response underscores the difficulty of getting Internet users to pay for anything that they already receive for free.”
I’d say that that’s an understatement.
Internet users have an extreme disconnect when it comes to the Web. Most people have no problem with buying products and services offline. If we go to Target and buy a CD – we shell out the cash. If we buy at book at Barnes & Noble – we shell out the cash. If we hire the services of an accountant – we shell out the cash. If we go to a weekly yoga class for lessons – we shell out the cash.
So why don’t we want to pay for anything on the Internet?
We want free email. We want free social networks. We want free music. We want free TV shows and free movies. We want free news.
The problem may be that consumers have been conditioned to get things for free on Internet. We have been getting a free ride since the crazy, dot-com days in the late 1990s.
And that may have been the biggest mistake businesses and organizations made when they made their first forays onto the Internet. In order to entice users online, they gave away their products, services and content. And now, more than a decade later, as 82% of Americans use the Internet and shift away from consuming goods offline (such as CDs and newspapers), businesses are beginning to realize they can no longer subsidize our long free ride on the Internet.
Free simply can’t work online forever. Musicians can’t create songs without a pay check. Novelists can’t write books if they don’t get paid for their time. Software engineers can’t create social networks without revenue. Journalists can’t produce news without salaries.
What do you think? Have we been spoiled by getting too much for free on the Internet? Are you willing to pay for content on the Web? Would you pay to use Twitter? Or Facebook? What do you think the solution is?
2010 Digital Future Project survey
Photo by Jessiee Cuizon (via Flickr)