Nell Fields, Clickshare exec, ponders the rationale for online billing
6 June 2001, 2 pm GMT
Virtual information products, driven by consumer needs rather than traditional physical form, are making payment for online content inevitable, according to Nell Fields, president of Clickshare Service.
The new payment infrastructure is inevitable if the internet is to thrive in its role as the new medium for education, entertainment, and information, Fields thinks
"The day of Internet free-for-all has passed," Fields seems sure "The challenge now is to produce a fair payment model. While some publications and services are easily sold on the Internet, people who want to purchase just one song, read just one article, or view just one page of a detailed research report are often daunted by complex pricing structures or the absence of a good pay-per-view business model."
The executive says the challenge for publishers of all types is to stop identifying markets in terms of existing product lines. Instead, they should define markets in terms of customer needs.
"The untethered information consumer has a set of needs - immediacy, customization, localization, compactness - which content providers couldn't satisfy a few years ago, with any feasible technology" says Fields
"Now they can. This makes the concept of a fixed physical product - books, newspapers, CD-ROMs, periodicals - too limiting.
Today, it's about connecting customers to the information they need, when they need it and in the form they need it. When you make that connection a beautiful thing happens. It's called commerce."
As a result of decoupling the consumer's need from the physical product, new payment mechanisms are required, those that can handle the creation of "virtual products" having no tangible form or substance until the instant a consumer demands them, says the exec, and the parts of the products may come from many different suppliers.
"Your Palm Pilot home page may have information resources gathered from multiple suppliers - and it's created in real time" says Fields. "Each needs to be paid their piece of the action. This creates the need for a wholesale-retail, aggregation approach to content sales."
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