I once believed micro-payments would liberate a number of smaller Internet based ventures. Whether it was bloggers, podcasts or screencasts, DIY videos, someone would pay a fraction of a cent to watch something that really helped them out. But no matter how many people talked or wrote about micropayments, nobody took ownership of it and did anything about it. If it was do-able and profitable somone like PayPal, Google or Yahoo would have done something by now. Smarter and more connected people have gone through the list of reasons why micropayments haven’t worked. And yet, hope springs eternal and some silver tongued soothsayers are promoting micropayments as a solution to the decreased subscriptions for daily news. So just to let everyone know, micropayments will NOT save daily newspapers.
If you want to go back through some of the reams of text that have been written about micropayments for news, Clay’s essay from 2003 is a good place to start — especially since it lists the half-dozen or so attempts to create such a system that failed miserably. (Are you listening, Steve Brill?) There’s also a good roundup at the Freakonomics blog from awhile back that is well worth reading.