Journalism’s Freemium Model

Reading this article about anonymous sources creating lazy, unreliable journalism makes me think a lot of the freemium business models everybody creating content is struggling with.

When the source of income is based upon ad impressions and page views, journalism is reliant upon being a breaking story – getting it first before getting it right. As much as we can say we dislike that model, it’s functional. Even with ‘low-value’ stories – I’ve fallen victim to it too. I’ve clicked on Buzzfeed links. Yesterday I clicked on an article about some celebrity I’ve never heard of. I’m not sure why.

The simplistic view is that we should just change the income source from ad-supported business models to subscriber-supported business models. If we compensate journalism (and musicians, and artists, and anybody else who deals in creative work) directly then maybe these problems could go away. But it doesn’t appear that journalism, or any other medium, can be realistically sustained on that. Think of how often people crab about New York Times paywalls.

Also consider app stores – paid apps often struggle to even get looked at because most mobile phone users simply don’t pay for apps. To get their apps onto phones developers often resort to in-app advertising or in-app purchases.

There’s no easy answer. I think we’re stuck between choosing imperfect but accessible content, or nothing – because premium articles and apps won’t get created unless there’s monetization at the end of the rainbow.

“Top Apps” Isn’t the problem

Marco Arment suggests getting rid of Top apps list on the iTunes Store:

The race to the bottom. Deceptive low-now, high-later pricing. Scam and clone apps. Shallow apps with little craftsmanship that succeed, but many high-quality apps unable to command a sustainable price. The “top” list encourages all of these — we’d still have them without the list, but to a substantially lesser degree.

Why not get rid of top apps across all stores? Music, iBooks, Ring Tones? In all of Apple’s stores they have editorial selection and a what the market buys Top-app list. The top selling list is a great discovery tool…granted, at least with music, ring tones, and iBooks you can get a sample before you buy.

The “rich get richer” problem exists across all stores:

…everyone who downloads an app by browsing the “top” list reinforces or increases the rank of the apps already on it, entrenching their positions and reducing the visibility of anything below the first few pages.

What’s wrong with that?

I love to see what the market leaders are across books, music, movies, TV shows, and apps. In many instances those selections are on the list because they deserve to be on the list. If you want to see editorial lists you have that on the store and elsewhere. You are free to ignore the Top lists. I want to see both.

Scam and clone apps, race-to-the-bottom, and shallow apps isn’t really a top apps list problem. It’s a dysfunction of Apple’s rules and the way they enforce them. $99 for an in-app purchase of coins is certainly deceptive, but it exists because Apple allows it to exist.1

  1. I can think of another thing that exists because it’s allowed to exist. 

dealmac’s 20% Off iTunes eGift Cards

I don’t know if this offer is still good, but if you buy a lot from iTunes, the iOS App Store, and the Mac App Store, then NOW IS THE TIME TO STOCK UP!

What’s especially great about this is that you can take a Best Buy gift card and turn it into iTunes and App Store credit. $20 Best Buy card? Now it’s a $25 iTunes/App Store gift card.

Digital Performer Released For Windows

I don’t write about DAWs much anymore, but a Digital Performer release on Windows is pretty significant. I think it leaves only Sonar and Logic Pro as the only DAW software that isn’t cross-platform between Mac and Windows.

With Logic Pro at $199 in the App Store, there’s little incentive to make DAW software for the Mac. Even if DAW developers can match Logic Pro’s $199, Apple would take a 30% cut if it’s sold on the App Store.1

  1. Pointed out by


Yes, Apple Does Social Media

The Ad Contrarian:

Apple still doesn’t have an official Twitter feed or Facebook page. They don’t jump from one gimmick to another. They are not desperate to hop on every fad that comes along. They are the most successful technology company in the world, yet they understand that communication is best done human-to-human.

Apple, the company, doesn’t have this stuff. But iBooks does, the App Store does, and the iTunes music store does.

Apple’s iTunes and App stores benefit from having these accounts because apps and music, in a way, are fads. They’re really popular for a little while until the next thing comes along. Tweetbot, for example, was all over Apple tech blogs when it came out. I spent the $2.99 or whatever it was, used it for 5 minutes, didn’t like it, and went back to Twitterrific.

I bet a lot of music and apps are sold that way: quick and easy purchase followed by buyer’s remorse.

Real Mac Software on the Mac App Store

Bad news: Say goodbye to upgrades. Good news: Say hello to less expensive software.

The argument is that most software will follow the iWork/iLife upgrade model (no upgrade pricing, but generally cheaper than alternatives). Although upgrades still exist for Pro apps like Final Cut and Logic Studio, but with the size of those installs I think they’ll remain on DVDs for the immediate future.

If there’s a bet on if Logic Express is on the Mac App store on Thursday…I wouldn’t wager one way or the other.