It's the most common question I get in my travels: Will people ever pay for content again? See what I had to say about that in a recent interview below (as posted on Paidcontent.org)
Implied in the question is a belief in some yesteryear in which people did pay for content. But the good news is, they never have and never will. That's the good news? Yes, because once we stop imagining that people will someday pay for content again, we can focus on giving them what they will pay for — access to content.
It's what people have always paid for and it's clearly what they pay for now. Look deeper into the past and you find that people did not underwrite all the pages of content in their daily newspapers. Yes, they paid for the newspaper, but that's just because the newspaper was the only way to get efficient access to that much news and information. Today, instead of paying for newspapers, they pay for high-speed data plans to their homes and on their mobile devices as well as subscriptions to content from Netflix and their cable companies, accounting for 77% of their monthly spend on content. And they will pay even more for that in the future as 4G becomes a reality.
In all this they're not paying for data. They're paying for access to content, the data plan or the subscription just happens to be the way they do it. That's why when I'm advising a publisher or programmer, I encourage them to focus on access. Make more content available, on more devices, in the most convenient ways possible. Today, that might mean developing a beautiful iPad app for a magazine, but tomorrow that means developing a new content experience altogether, with personal clippings, recommended stories, all of it socially enhanced to reflect not just what I want to read but what my community is reading and discussing. That is a type of access, too, and it's one that goes beyond what Google can return as a search result.