Times Online To Charge By Phone Bill

from the one-way-to-do-things dept

Robert Loch writes “Now this is an plan that makes a hell of a lot of sense to me, although I’d imagine that the related security issues must be very complicated – ‘The Times is set to charge casual users of its website on their monthly mobile phone bill in a revolutionary move that could prove a goldmine for other sites. All users have to do is input their mobile number to unlock restricted parts of the site. They will then be simply charged for usage on their monthly telephone bill. Times Online is currently testing the system internally and hopes to be able to launch it across all mobile networks in the next few months.'” Well, I give it a thumbs up for setting it up in a relatively seamless way for the end-user. However, I think The Register does an excellent job explaining why it probably isn’t such a smart move. It’s a question of whether or not the Times Online actually has enough unique content to get people to pay (when they might be able to find the equivalent content elsewhere for free). Then, once they start charging, their other business model gets shot to hell as well, since advertising will drop since their page views will drop. If they can’t get enough people to pay to make up the loss in advertising, they’re actually significantly worse off.

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Comments on “Times Online To Charge By Phone Bill”

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Robert Loch (user link) says:

I agree

I was refering solely to the potential of their phone billing system. I think that could prove to be significant if widely adopted. I don’t know whether it could be easily introduced in the US, but if so, it could have a negative influence on a number of companies, Paypal for instance, and could also partially interfere with Bill’s .Net plans. There would definitely be some significant implications, especially if e-commerce sites started to accept payment in this way.

whit says:

Re: I agree

I was refering solely to the potential of their phone billing system. I think that could prove to be significant if widely adopted.

I agree — I recall that in Japan and some parts of Europe it’s relatively simple and common for people to make small purchases that are charged to a cell phone bill (vending machines come to mind as an example). This is the fist time I’ve heard of this approach being taken on the Web, though. It’d be really interesting if if catches on.

Robert Loch says:

Re: problems?

Yeah, that’s the first thing that I thought. I just presumed that they have someway around it. Probably a pin number or something.

Carter, I’m also somewhat surprised that ISP’s didn’t club together and come up with some system. In a wider context, I’m a fan of this type of initiative. I’ve thought for a long time that Microsoft biggest thread comes from the mobile phone. If the mobile becomes the primary organising agent in peoples lives then Microsoft’s power could be greatly eroded overtime. I think that they realise this, and that is why .Net is so important to them.

Carter (user link) says:

Killer App: consolidated billing

I remember thinking years ago why ISPs hadn’t taken over the internet in terms of e-commerce. You see something you want on-line, you click on the “bill to ISP button”, enter some password, and viola it shows up on your ISP bill. Fraud is minimized because of your physical connection to the internet via your ISP.

One thing that might have kept ISPs out of this space (and that cell-phone carriers should be wary of) is all the crap that comes with offering payment services: delinquancy, fraud, merchants, etc.

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