Dan Farber of CNet proposes a business model for Twitter — a subscription model. He adds $5 would be enough for Twitter to survive but cheap enough for Tweeters to willingly dole out. Would people pay to Tweet? I think so.
Twitter is basically a blogging service (on a micro scale, that is). If you place it side by side with mainstream blog platforms such as WordPress.com, Blogger and TypePad, there’s actually not much difference. So, if people are willing to buy credits on WordPress.com or pay monthly subscriptions on TypePad, why not Twitter?
TypePad starts at $4.95, WordPress.com feature upgrades cost $1 a credit and regular hosting and domain will set you back a couple of dollars a month. Technically, people are willing to pay to be able to blog. Twitter could follow a similar business model.
Option A: Flat Payments. Once Twitter reaches critical numbers (and can no longer get additional funding), they can switch all account to paid accounts (30 days notice). Annual subscriptions can start at $25 (similar to fee as Flickr Pro) with unlimited features. That’s just about $2 a month.
Option B: Tiered Plans. Basic plans will be free but number of messages will be limited to say 100 tweets a day (according to stats, active Tweeters send 105 messages a day). You can then upgrade to 500 tweets per day for $2/month or unlimited for $5 a month.
Option C: Free, Ad-Supported Credits. Tweeters receive one (1) Twitter ad for every 10 sent. I’m sure advertiser take-up will grow once they know they can insert their brands into the conversation. There’s more exposure and it’s more effective so a 10:1 tweet to ad ratio might be enough to support it.
Option D: Feature Upgrades. Just like WordPress.com, Twitter can offer premium upgrades to paying users. This would also include dedicated tech support, ability to change themes or edit design, guaranteed uptime and use of domains names, etc. Maybe twitter can offer a Friend Feed feature to premium users too.
The sooner Twitter can find ways to monetize itself, the sooner it can fix some of its growth/scaling problems. When competitor Pownce enter the same market, it wasn’t able to gather much attention (Kevin Rose once hinted there are over 100k Pownce users) but they were still able to figure out monetization from day one. There’s also Google’s Jaiku which nobody seems to be taking notice.
Question is, how much of the over 1 million subscriber base of Twitter are willing to pay up for the service?