March 30, 2011

· Economics · News

Via John Gruber, Philip Greenspun asks how on earth the New York Times spent $40 million on its new paywall:

… my biggest question right now is how the NY Times spent a reported $40-50 million writing the code (Bloomberg; other sources are consistent). Google was financed with $25 million. The New York Times already had a credit card processing system for selling home delivery. It already had a database management system for keeping track of Web site registrants. What did they spend the $40-50 million on?

And what do you get for $40m besides a wall that can be trivially circumvented? I just got an emailed an “exclusive offer — only for registered NYTimes.com readers” to subcribe at a reduced rate. As you can see, they're targeting iPhone and iPad users:

NYT offer fail

Unfortunately, notwithstanding the large pictures of mobile devices, the small print at the bottom tells you that you can't subscribe via the browser on your phone or tablet. I guess they don't want to make it too easy to sign up.

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I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m also affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Read a brief overview of my work or my Curriculum Vitae.

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