Kai was bitching about paying for web sites earlier on today.
Somewhere in my foggy brain a thought emerged: well, if it was a buck a year, would that be easier?
Here’s sort of what I’m thinking.
Let there be a site, SimpleSubscriptions. This site takes money in $20 lumps – nothing smaller – to keep down credit card processing charges.
Partner sites can offer additional services to paid subscribers, fixed at $1 a year. SimpleSubscriptions mails them a cheque once a month for their subscriptions for that month. The price is fixed for much the same reason that iTunes fixed pricing.
So we have two simple, clean, plausible transactions which combine to implement a sort of “microsubscription” model. Moof tells me that age verification systems in the porn industry work something like this, which is generally a really good sign.
My feeling on this is that the key to microsubscription is that it cuts the mental accounting barrier to micropayments. A list of the 15 sites I’m paying a buck a year to is not problematic – I can read the list, understand there are 15 items on it, and know that I’m paying $15 this year. It’s not like looking at web pages and being charged a fraction of a cent per page view – or like having my eyeballs bought and sold!
I think that there’s a lot of room to combine this sort of service with single sign on – I have a login to my microsubscription service which I use for all the sites I’m paid up on. The combination of microsubscription and single sign-on seems to me like a highly credible infrastructure play.
I imagine that the microsubscription service would in itself be paid for with a microsubscription.
If anybody’s interested in thinking about this further, let’s get together in London some Friday afternoon after the Tuttle Club and kick around some ideas. Hashtag for this: #microsubscription