Study: Fee-Based Twitter Service would Flop

Paul Lilly

Twitter hasn't yet figured out how to rake in the big bucks like other social networking outfits, but one idea that will never fly is trying to charge users for the right to microblog, a new study suggests. Not only would such a business model fail, the study says, but it would fail miserably, with zero percent of those surveyed saying they would be willing to pay for Twitter.

"Such an extreme finding that produced a zero response underscores the difficulty of getting Internet users to pay for anything that they feel they already receive for free," said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

"Twitter has no plans to charge its users, but this result illustrates, beyond any doubt, the tremendous problem of transforming free users into paying users," said Cole. "Online providers face major challenges to get customers to pay for services they now receive for free."

Advertising is another way Twitter could bring in revenue, and one users are more receptive to than paying outright for a service.

"Users express strong negative views about online advertising, but they still prefer seeing ads as an alternative to paying for content," Cole added. "Consumers really want free content without advertising, but ultimately they understand that content has to be paid for -- one way or another."

The annual report touches on a number of online topics, which you can read here (PDF) .

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