moneyA recent email made me consider the future of online services. A number of sites encourage people to join, to build up their following and then introduce charges.

WordPress is a perfect example. Recently, new themes have been created which look great, until you scroll down and realise they come with a $50+ price tag. Or their new feature allowing users to change their theme’s font style, for $30, a year.

This is not the only company that has implemented some sort of ‘premium’ features. For a couple of years, Spotify has encouraged people to join their service for free, making revenue through advertisements. To remove these ads, users could upgrade to a paid account, however, Spotify have recently cut back on their free services, so push people towards paying these monthly subscriptions. Even the BBC  have suggested that a fee may be added for watching programmes through iPlayer.

So will companies be successful from this strategy? Will users stay loyal and pay the fees, or will they leave and find other free services? It is hard to say, however, we have all heard of newspapers such as The Times, who took this risk, asking readers to pay £2 a week to view their online content. Many people believed this would have a disastrous effect on the company, however, the results are positive! Although they lost a significant amount of non-paying readers, there were still a lot of people who chose to subscribe, which meant that profits were high. As a result, a number of other companies have, or will follow suit.

So where does that leave us, the consumer? As more and more companies adopt this strategy, will we be paying out even more? Will our favourite sites like YouTube and Twitter follow suit? What do you think?

I would love to hear about any other companies that have taken this approach as well.


5 thoughts on “Will sites such as Facebook soon charge us to use its services?

  1. Interesting thought, while I think premium services are a great idea for services to get some income I don’t see facebook charging, they are making money. Their USP is having a massive network of accessible users.
    Facebook are more likely to include, and almost certainly have done, to copy premium services from others and offer them for free.

    1. Thank you for your comment! Yes, I agree, Facebook is based around having a large user base, but they could possibly charge for certain features, to make even more money. Like for games, for some, to get extra features, you have to pay :S

  2. The original understanding of a web site was to promote, educate and inform. There was no censorship or even implied standards. Now we have unstoppable commerce to navigate through. From the simplist scam: a charge of 10% to pay by credit card online (the av charge is 2,2%) to a ‘free download’ only to find the ‘pay now or else’ hook to use catches you when you have downloaded an exe, We are all constanlly having to be aware that fees or costs are always around the next web corner. I suggest a global standard should be introduced. On all commercial web sites or pages, a clear sybol is displayed: Its says – CHARGEABLE if there are any fess. If like Facebook,’ Its always free’, then the symbol simply says – FREE. Web living should be transparent. Safe surfing means no sharks. Lets keep the original web culture – if its FREE then lets say so, and be proud – likewise if its CHARGEABLE – then say so upfront – and I mean really upfront – on the Front Page – if the product or service is that good, people will pay. Lets keep it honest – we should all get what it says on the can – no surprises.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree that sites should be more open with their fees. However, a number of sites now, start off completey free to encourage users and then once users are ‘hooked’, the site limit their services, offering their upgraded services on a subscription fee basis. You can see this with tools such as Spotify…

  3. when a web site changes its stance on charging from free to fees and when a user is ‘trapped’ or ‘switched’ we are looking at an old fashioned sales method used in the physical world – its called ‘bait and switch’ – this is now illegal in many countries –

    remedy – when a site starts charging for any tool or service at any time then is should clearly show the ‘CHARGEABLE’ symbol – if its FREE then the entire is FREE. If a web site locks a user in under a free banner and then charges – its for the user to leave the site – and then the viral world kicks in and the web site gets a bad reputation. Brand reputation is all. Bait and Switch must be banned.

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