Former UK Times media correspondent Dan Sabbagh at his Beehive City media blog advances the story about the response to the new paywall there at Rupert Murdoch's London daily, Times paywall : the numbers are out (should we charge for this?)*:
Here's the sign-up data the Hive has picked up (and if you want more analysis on the figures, read here).
Number of people registering for The Times and Sunday Times websites during the free trial period (last month): 150,000
++ Update 19/07 noon: I'm now hearing from official sources that this number is in fact somewhat higher. But I'm hearing no challege to the more important numbers below ++
Number of people actually agreeing to pay money: 15,000
This figure, apparently, is considered disappointing. And if it's right it's certainly a slow start (right now Beehive City considers itself bigger than Times Online, and we ain't lying either). But you'd still expect that to build steadily from here even if the Mandelson memoirs haven't delivered the box office.
But there is more obviously positive news too.
Number of people paying for The Times's separate iPad application: 12,500
That's considered to be a very good number -- given that not that many people own an iPad. Which makes you think that the future of newspapers starts to look a bit like the music industry. A declining print business; a modestly growing Apple dominated digital-paid for business -- and an internet free-for-all in which nobody pays for anything that erodes the previous two.
iPad owners, who agree to pay for the proprietary device and apps for it, may be a self-selecting core of subsidizers of paid content. It's a business model that depends on volunteers at the hardware level, much like buyers of luxury cars who accept the higher costs of maintenance, repairs, taxes and insurance that come with these wheels.
Another Times alum, George Brock, breaks the Times' paywall by copying his own review of Clay Shirky's new book Cognitive Surplus there to his personal site, saying (Taking a (little) brick out of the paywall),
On Saturday, the paper printed a short review they'd commissioned of Clay Shirky's new book Cognitive Surplus in the Weekend Review section.
Shirky is the subject of occasional mentions and links in this blog and I'd have liked to link to my review. I can provide it here but of course you have to subscribe to The Times to read it. As an experiment, I've pasted the text I filed to The Times at the foot of this post. You can read it for free as long as The Times doesn't object.