Google Working On Micropayment Scheme To Help Newspapers Commit Suicide Faster

from the good-joke dept

Now this is funny. One of the undercurrent themes found in all of the "newspaper guy blaming Google for newspaper demise" stories is the idea that Google should also come to the rescue of newspapers. Usually, this means by just forking over some of its massive profits, but other times it's based on odd claims that Google has a responsibility to create the new business model for journalism. Well, it appears that Google is stepping into that breach... but it strikes me as an elaborate practical joke. That's because Google has alerted the newspaper world that it's working on a micropayment solution via its seldom-used Google Checkout offering, that could be used as a form of a paywall. Of course, we've been waiting for newspapers to actually offer just such a paywall, so that we can watch it fail and get on with our lives. Perhaps I'm way too cynical on this particular move by Google, but it strikes me as Google handing newspaper execs the rope with which to hang themselves. The problem with a paywall isn't that the technology doesn't exist to make it work -- it's that consumers won't buy into it. But, if the newspapers want to try -- and Google wants to provide the rope -- good for them. Update Seems like a bad time to point out that retailers are having serious problems with Google Checkout, huh?

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  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 9:46am

    Heh.

    Careful what you ask for...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NSMike, 10 Sep 2009 @ 9:49am

    Want something done right...

    Nah, this isn't quite Google giving them rope to hang themselves. If Google's paywall doesn't work, the newspapers will simply say Google didn't do it right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    iNtrigued (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 9:55am

    Careful Google

    Ah, but then they might turn around and try to sue Google for it not working. And if they did die they might try to use it as yet another "newspaper guy blaming Google for newspaper demise".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Drew, 10 Sep 2009 @ 10:15am

    Give em what they want

    Oldest sales slogan in the world. If newspapers want a paywall, and google has a paywall, google might as well turn a buck watching it fail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trails, 10 Sep 2009 @ 10:23am

    Cagey

    This also give google some political cred/room to maneuver with legislators.

    "We don't want to see newspapers die! Look, we're enabling them to setup the very content paywalls they claim will save them. Look, they're starting to use them let's watch and see what happens..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PRMan, 10 Sep 2009 @ 10:29am

    If they priced the articles appropriately...

    Them - Would you like to pay 5¢ to read this article online?

    Me - OK

    Them - Would you like to pay $1.00 to read this article online?

    Me - Cancel

    But they'll pick $1.00.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Guy One, 10 Sep 2009 @ 11:17am

      Re: If they priced the articles appropriately...

      5 Cents!!!! for one article? You like to pay a premium? a newspaper sells for 25 cents still right? That means the online version of the article should be worth $0.0025 MAX.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2009 @ 11:25am

      Re: If they priced the articles appropriately...

      Them - Would you like to pay $1.00 to read this article online?

      Me - Not worth the money. I'll look elsewhere.

      Them - Would you like to pay 5¢ to read this article online?

      Me - Not worth the effort of signing up on google checkout then signing in on the newspaper website. I'll look elsewhere.

      At least it's somewhat centralized so I don't have to give my credit info out to every new site and then remember login names/passwords for each, but still. . . free news without logging in over there -->.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        chris (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 2:23pm

        Re: Re: If they priced the articles appropriately...

        google checkout is so fast it's like the ultimate impulse buy system.

        i have bought a bunch of things on impulse that the credit card entry process would have pushed me to reconsider.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sehlat (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 10:29am

    Beautiful

    This will end up being poison for the newspapers, and google is artfully giving them what they want, in a golden chalice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glaze, 10 Sep 2009 @ 10:37am

    In the words of Matt Stone and Tre Parker...

    "Hang the bastards! Hang 'em high. Hoist their bodies to the sky. And when their bodies stop shaking we'll know... its the end of them (it's the end of them) and we all can go home!" - Cannibal the Musical

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    william (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 10:37am

    it's the good kind of conspiracy

    Google is spending some of its money to do us a charity.

    Basically they are wasting a whole bunch of money to invest in a system that will kill off online pay newspapers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Trails, 10 Sep 2009 @ 11:49am

      Re: it's the good kind of conspiracy

      Now if there was only some way for them to claim it as a tax write-off...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Fred McTaker (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 12:19pm

      Re: it's the good kind of conspiracy

      I think it's funny that you bring up the term "charity" sarcastically here. I was just thinking that I hope Google follows through with the micro-payments system, not just because it will give bad newspapers just the right kind of rope to hang themselves with, but also because I think online micro-donations would be a really good option for most charities. I know I would personally spend a lot more on small donations to charities, political groups, and artists than I do with lump donations now.

      I also know first hand the per-transaction fees with most online payment systems makes selling ANYthing online for under $4 really impractical, even when shipping is not a concern. The credit card companies really bilk the small businesses for each transaction. Imagine artists being able to set up their own iTunes-alike stores, selling individual tracks for $1 or less. The lower the barrier to entry on these purchases and donations, for both the consumer and the small site operators, the better.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Noah Buddy, 10 Sep 2009 @ 11:11am

    Different View

    I can see one potential problem. If the newspapers use Google Checkout for their micro payments, will following a Google link take you straight to a Google Checkout page for that article? If so, the general public may assume Google (not the newspaper) is charging to follow the link.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DJ (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 12:09pm

      Re: Different View

      I'm not "in the know" like some of you folks, but it seems to me that the Google people are smart enough to see that too. Let's hope so.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    micropayment filter, 10 Sep 2009 @ 12:02pm

    micropayment solution + micropayment filter

    The moment google will create micropayment solution, the next will have a google filter , exclude all article with micropayment. Remember google moto "Get the fastest search results links" If I have to pay for every other news article , they will change the way I read news and my RSS feed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BobinBaltimore (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 2:46pm

    Non-starter

    No major players in the newspaper world are taking this seriously.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    roxanneadams (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 3:08pm

    Like chronic smokers, the print newspapers are responsible for their own slow, agonizing and painful death. If Google wants to play the game and pretend to be extending life-support to a dying patient, I say go ahead, but the disease is terminal and there is no cure.

    My parents keep complaining about how the LA Times keeps shrinking. As soon as their current year's subscription is up, they won't renew, after 50+ years of being home delivery customers. There's no value left in the paper for them.

    The Los Angeles Daily News put the bullet into their own brain after they cut off my service and turned me over to collections when I had a credit balance on my account. I had paid my bill twelve months in advance for years and never before had a problem. After they cut off my service, I started getting nastygrams in the mail and annoying phone calls at work. How do you convince a moron that $-100.00 means you have a credit balance?

    The person in charge of the delivery route showed up at my house at least once a week, slipping pay envelopes and statements through the mail slot on my front door, even one time, leaving a generic holiday card with a handwritten note inside, reminding me that in order to pay his workers and his bills, he needed me to pay my bills.

    Finally, I got the bright idea to call up and officially cancel my subscription. A week later, a refund check came in the mail. Sure, I'll subscribe to a print newspaper again - when hell freezes over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2009 @ 5:45am

    A take on PRman's post......
    Them - Would you like to pay 5¢ to read this article online?
    Clueless - OK........CLICK!!!!
    Them - Now sending you an invoice...we will be charging your credit card 5¢ (plus delivery charge of 50¢+45¢postage&packing). Oh yeah did we forget to tell you we signed you up for spam? yeah...spam....from everyone that advertises with us inside the paywall (and Christ knows we need the money...theres so few of them left!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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