The internet is incredible. It has given countless numbers of people access to information, content, experiences, and interactions on a level that we could not have even imagined several decades ago. Somewhere on the path to the online world becoming what it is today, many of us, myself included, became accustomed to not paying for anything. Even worse than becoming used to not paying for anything, we became averse to paying for stuff that was providing a tremendous amount of value for us, the users. When founders are building a product for consumers, many of them have to hope to reach massive scale, so they can effectively monetize using some form of advertising. The ad model works tremendously for many online business, but it also begs the question, could many other kinds of businesses be successful, without reaching 100 million users? If the psychology of consumers was trained to not want to pay for apps/subscriptions what kind of innovative business could be created? What if a company could just focus on providing the user with an incredible experience, great service, and making some aspect of their life better? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to ask the user to pay a reasonable amount for that experience? Why have so many of us become so against paying for stuff online, when we pay for almost every service we use in the physical world?
In my own experience I arrived at many of these questions when I found myself debating whether or not I should pay for two apps on my iPhone. The two apps I was debating buying were Tweetbot and 1Password. I believe Tweetbot provides a clearly superior experience than the native Twitter app for iPhone. Twitter is easily the service I use the most on my iPhone, and my computer, there was no good reason for me to even think twice about paying a few dollars for the app. As I heard about an increasing number of online services’ security being compromised, and passwords needing to be changed, I realized I needed to radically change my strategy of using the same three passwords for every single service (stupid, I know!) 1Password was an incredible solution, but once again, having to pay for the app served as an illogical barrier for me at first. Logic ultimately prevailed, and I purchased both apps, and haven’t looked back since. Spending a few dollars for applications that I use multiple times a day, every single day makes perfect sense. In hindsight, it was foolish to even hesitate paying for them. With this new perspective, I would argue that we the users are getting incredible bargains on many of the products that we do end up begrudgingly paying for.
As people continue to spend an increasing amount of time in the digital world, we need to see the thinking around paying for goods/services change. We should be rewarding companies that provide value, with our actual money. This will allow those companies to focus on making the product better, rather than figuring out ways to serve us ads, so they can monetize the user base, rather than the product. It will be interesting to watch this area develop over the next few years, as the cost, and friction around online payments continues to decrease, particularly due to the rapid rise of Bitcoin. My digital wallet is open!