Partially Attended

an irregularly updated blog by Ian Mulvany

What's the right amount to charge for phone content?

Thu Feb 4, 2010

294 Words
Having a discussion earlier today with one of my colleagues, we were
discussing pricing models for iPhone applications. I buy a lot of apps
on my iPhone, but the content that we were discussing pricing for is
academic article content. This traditionally sells online for tens of
dollars per unit. If one wants to sell such content on an iPhone, but
at the same time retain the apparent value of the content how do you
price it?

It's a tough question, and unless you have a large stable of journals
of differential quality, it's going to be hard to run a series of
experiments to test change in sales volume based on price

My gut feeling is that to drive large, or even modest volumes, of
sales on a device like the iPhone the content has to be priced below
the level at which the buyer is even considering the economics of the
purchase. It has to pass my "is it less than a cup of coffee" test. If
it is then I'm not even going to think about the opportunity cost for
purchase. Of course this is where it gets problematic for academic
content. You could only sell minor academic content cheaply (like news
coverage), or content with a reduced fucntionality, or you could try
and go for some sweet spot pricing (the cost of a large latte with
extra cream and caramel topping kind of thing).

The iPad is likely to allow academic publishers to go ahead and just
try to sell their content at the prices that they think they can
charge for on the web, but I'd still love to see a radical re-think of
pricing for at least some types of content on handheld platforms.

tags: iphone, ipad, publishing, science, pricing, coffee

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