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The customer is always wrong

Consumers say everything should be free, according to new survey

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

One of the biggest challenges facing the internet today is the fact that nobody seems to be willing to pay for anything. Readers expect content that they would pay for in a newspaper or magazine to be free just because it's not printed on pulped wood, companies pay a pittance for online advertising because they can't see beyond click through rates, and millions of people around the world swap music on services like Napster and Gnutella.

So it's perhaps no surprise then that a new survey from the Consumer Electronics Association shows that "consumers believe they should get content online for free". Understandably 92% of people are against having to pay taxes for access to the internet, while 75% don't want to pay sales tax on items bought online. Fair enough. But some of the findings are rather more worrying. For example, half of the people who took part in the survey don't feel that they should have to pay to download games or music from the internet. Quite how they expect developers to produce these games when nobody is willing to pay for them is a mystery. As CEA president Gary Shapiro admits, "the challenge for our industry is to develop new business models, products, technologies, and services which provide a balance between the legitimate interest of content owners and the desires expressed by consumers in this survey".

Au contraire, it is this writer's opinion that the challenge for our industry is to convince people to start paying for the services that they have so far taken for granted. Unless that happens or somebody can come up with a radical new business model, the entire internet industry is likely to melt down within the next couple of years. We have already seen several major gaming website networks and service providers going to the wall in recent months, along with a string of doom and gloom announcements from game developers and publishers. If 77% of people aren't willing to pay for online content and 50% won't even pay for games they download online, there's little hope for the rest of us who have survived this far...

Source - press release

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