Would you pay for YouTube Pro?
Forget YouTube Premium. What would happen if the video-sharing titan created a more aggressive yet affordable paid subscription service?
Anyone who has been interested in Moore’s Law and its basic tenets, or who has read Free: The future of a radical price, Chris Anderson’s influential book from 2009, is well aware that throughout history there were products and services that saw their prices dwindle to zero or something very close to zero. It happened with transistors, music, hard drives (the cost per byte of storage media) and a few others. At some point, their price tag simply dropped to a negligible value of $0.000… something.
In his book, Anderson mentions Google on countless occasions — including the classic “this is the Google Generation, and they’ve grown-up online simply assuming that everything digital is free” — and dedicates an entire chapter to examine the company’s free services, from cloud-based apps to YouTube. Probably because he was the editor-in-chief at Wired until 2012, Anderson, however, practically ignores all journalistic products. The New York Times’s business model, for example, is boiled down to two lines, and the rest of news media, don’t even get that far.
Why does it matter? Because incredible as it seems, if you’re paying $7.99 for Hulu or $9.99 for Spotify today, the pricing chaos instigated by news outlets over the last two decades is as much to blame as Google’s unbeatable $0.
Anderson also missed the opportunity to explain that this direct correlation, of course, works both ways. If Google’s business model logic was distinct, the pressure on pricing for other digital products and services would also be entirely different. Moreover, some of the most popular digital platforms in the world — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter etc. — could have taken the opposite path: abandoning the Fabulous Land of Free to develop their own subscription strategy — a totally different world from the one we live in.
Today is too easy to predict that, in a scenario like this, Facebook would be endangered. Even if its subscription cost $1/month, the vast majority of the 2.7 billion Facebook users would probably leave Mark Zuckerberg’s social network without…