Saturday, May 14, 2011

For a Few Dollars More

Perhaps you found it bothersome when the New York Times instituted a paywall to control the amount of content people were able to see for free.

Well, another entity has jumped on the bandwagon and started charging for web content: The entire country of Slovakia.

Interestingly, Slovakia with a population of only 5.7 million people, probably doesn't have that many more citizens than the New York Times has readers. Before anyone starts worrying that this sort of thing might happen in the United States, bear in mind that that smallness is precisely what makes this sort of thing possible. The paywall covers nine media sources and in a country that small, that's really all they've got.

If anything, I view this as a cautionary tale of what can happen to consumers when there is insufficient competition in the marketplace. Every company certainly wants to make money, quite literally at the expense of their customers. But ultimately, every company is restrained by their competitors. There's no way they can keep in business if they're unable to offer services that are slightly cheaper than the next guy.

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