Who Is the Customer?

From the official PayPal weblog:

As we’ve been saying since last October, Publishers need an easy way to monetize their content while also retaining information about their readers across multiple platforms. With Apple’s subscription service, publishers lose both these controls and have few options.

Publishers may well “need” access to subscriber data in their current business models, but there’s no reason they can’t change business models to adapt to a changing market. Just because at one point in history publishers could make large amounts of money selling their subscriber data to junk mail marketers doesn’t mean they have a right to maintain that business model forever.

PayPal understands that publishers and content providers need to make money. That’s why PayPal for Digital Goods pricing has not changed since 2005, and remains at just 5% plus 5 cents. This beats both Google and Apple, while also allowing customers the option to retain information about their readers across multiple platforms.

There are two aspects to this. First, the rate that gets charged. Undoubtedly, PayPal’s fees are far lower than Apple’s. But the second is interesting — access to subscriber data. PayPal uses “customers” when talking about the publishers, and they see the access to subscriber information as rightfully belonging to the publishers. Apple sees the subscribers — the users of iOS devices — as its customers, and they see the control over their personal information as belonging to them individually. Remember, Apple isn’t blocking publishers from subscriber data — they’ve simply made it an opt-in system controlled by the user. That’s a telling difference.

Friday, 4 March 2011