Dec 18, 2011

Goods and services on the web

I wanted to buy a different font for my blog, and there were two choices to make. FontSpring or Typekit. FontSpring sells fonts with a one-time fee. You buy specific fonts, use them, and that’s it. You have the files, and you can do (almost) whatever you want with them. It’s great. Typekit is a bit different. They run a subscription-based model for which you pay a yearly fee and use whatever fonts you want. But there are limits: you can’t download the fonts, and you can only use them on the web.

A tough choice? Not exactly. You don’t really have to choose one over the other. You just have to ask yourself, “how much do I need?” If you’re not going to use a bunch of fonts, use FontSpring. You might end up saving a lot of money. On the other hand, if you find yourself using a variety of fonts and don’t want to drop hundreds of dollars on each one, choose Typekit.

You may not be paying for fonts, so what about music? We’ve all seen Pandora, Spotify, Google Music, and the others, but which one’s the right choice?

Let’s say you’re a casual listener. You can either buy an album, which is around $10, or you can get a month-long subscription from Spotify, which is $9.99 per month, and listen to the same album. This situation isn’t a whole lot different from the fonts. You can download an album and do whatever you want with it, but you don’t have that much freedom with Spotify.

If you’re someone who listens to couple of albums a month or more, then you’d obviously choose to go with Spotify.

The rise of services

We’re going to see a rise in subscription-based services on the web. It’s inevitable because it works out better for users. Payment for intangible goods and services is inherently subscription-based because it’s not like we actually own those products, we just get licenses for them. I’d rather have a subscription service for books and fonts than a one-time fee. I get more choices, and I end up paying a lot less.

Another idea is software. We’re at a point in time where it doesn’t make sense to sell standalone software anymore. Subscription-based models are the way to go.

What’s next?

Books, movies, fonts, magazines, etc. Digital media. I’d like to see subscriptions for those. We’ve already seen most of them already, and Amazon has recently taken up a venture to offer a Netflix-like service for books. Excellent! This is the way we should be moving. We have also seen subscription games from companies like OnLive. We need more of them.

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