Evidentially, there’s a big fight going on at the New York Times over how much to charge for the new digital edition being prepared to launch when the iPad goes on sale next month.
The people currently in charge of the paper version want to charge $20 – $30 a month.
Why so much? Because they’re said to be afraid people will cancel the print paper if they can get the same thing on their iPad. Nevermind that iPad distribution comes with none of the paper or delivery costs associated with print, or that there’s already a free electronic edition available to subscribers who cancel.
On the other side are the folks running the Times’ online edition who are pushing a price of $10 a month, still much higher than the current web site (free), which owners plan to pull behind a pay wall in 2011 regardless of the iPad.
Realistically, anyone at the Times who believes they can persuade a meaningful number of subscribers (that is, enough to save the business) to give them $30 a month for a digital version of their paper is crazy.
I’m not sure they’ll be able to find enough readers, especially outside the New York metro area, willing to pay $10.
The bottom line is that the owners of the Times (and other distributors of data) are selling a package of not-particularly-unique information to which they attach their particular brand.
And they need to seriously consider if that package is one that consumers will pay to have delivered, digitally or otherwise, on a regular schedule.
So, what would you pay for regular access to a brand-name digital information package (aka newspapers and magazines)?
I suspect the owners of those packages have a much higher opinion of their brands than do most of the people formerly known as customers.