I'd Buy That Twitter For A Dollar - InformationWeek

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IoT
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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
11/21/2008
05:28 PM
Allen Stern
Allen Stern
Commentary
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I'd Buy That Twitter For A Dollar

The question going around the early adopter circle this week is whether Twitter users would pay for their accounts and if so, how much would they be willing to pay. Rob Jensen has analyzed a survey which shows that most people who replied would rather see the service go away than pay for it.

The question going around the early adopter circle this week is whether Twitter users would pay for their accounts and if so, how much would they be willing to pay. Rob Jensen has analyzed a survey which shows that most people who replied would rather see the service go away than pay for it.From my perspective, if Twitter was about sharing business information and ideas, I'd be more open to payment. But there's no way I am paying to read what someone had for lunch or that they are on their way to Cancun.

Twitter monetization is a topic I've written about several times before. As Twitter grows, its monetization troubles keep compounding. In fact, check out Twitterific, which charges $15 for its Twitter client. While not a complete monetization model, I could see brands "buying" interested users and creating the new opt-in mailing list. Take online shoe retailer Zappos, for example -- it has a very popular Twitter account. It would pay a fee for each person who is following its account.

Another option for Twitter to consider is selling words within tweets, similar to the Kontera and Intellitxt programs. Let's assume Apple bought the keyword for iPod and a person mentions iPod in one of their tweets -- a link would be created over the word iPod which would link to the Apple site. Twitter could set up the words using an auction model and as long as there is a good time-management system in place, the ads could work. The issue with this concept is that so many of Twitter's users are using the service with third-party applications. These third-party applications will pose an issue for most monetization models that Twitter considers.

If Twitter does decide to offer paid accounts, the paid accounts have to be able to offer enough value to make the purchase price worth it. In addition, the purchase price has to be enough to (at a minimum) cover the costs associated with the usage. While it's easy to suggest that a Web application has no real costs, Twitter has SMS and other fees (which continue to increase).

You might be wondering if I would pay for Twitter. The answer is most likely not. If it moves to a paid model, so many users will leave and the investment won't return enough value. I believe the corporate opt-in plan suggested above is still the best initial revenue model for Twitter.

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