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  1. Twitter formally announces Blue subscription, rolling out in Canada and Australia Twitter's long rumored subscription service quietly launched late last month, courtesy of an update to the app's listing on Apple's App Store. Twitter Blue costs $2.99 per month, and for that price you'll get access to a number of features such as the ability to organize tweets into folders, use custom icons, and change the app's accent color. Today, the micro-blogging service formally introduced Blue, with its first iteration now rolling out in Australia and Canada. Subscribers in those countries will pay CA$3.49 or AU$4.49 to have access to several premium features mentioned above as well as the ability to revise a tweet before it goes live with "Undo Tweet". This feature allows you to set a timer of up to 30 seconds, within which you can retract your tweet and make the necessary changes before posting it. More importantly, it gives you some time window to preview your tweet before anyone else can see it. In addition, there's a new Bookmark Folders feature with which you can organize your saved tweets in a single location where it's easier to find them. If you'd like a more convenient reading experience, then the “Reader Mode” is your thing. It lets you view threads more easily by “turning them into easy-to-read text”. Twitter Blue is initially available in Australia and Canada starting today, with the goal of gathering feedback in order to build more features for subscribers. There's no word, though, as to when the service will launch in other regions. Twitter formally announces Blue subscription, rolling out in Canada and Australia
  2. Mozilla starts test of subscription-based ad-free Internet experience Mozilla launched a new subscription-based service today in partnership with Scroll.com that gives subscribers an ad-free reading experience on participating news sites. Some might say that they get an ad-free experience already thanks to the content blocker that they are using, and that may very well be the case for sites that don't use paywalls or other means of blocking Internet users with ad-blockers from accessing the sites. The idea behind the new service is simple: make sure that site owners and users benefit from an ad-free Internet. Many Internet sites rely on advertisement revenue. Content blockers on the other hand remove ads which is beneficial to the user, but they don't address the revenue issue that arises. You could say that it is not the task of the content blocker to make sure that a site survives, and that is true, but as a user, you may be interested in keeping some sites alive. With Scroll, users would pay a monthly subscription fee to support participating sites. The details are a bit blurry right now. The First Look page is up and it provides some information. According to it, a subscription will cost $4.99 per month but you don't get to see a list of participating sites right now. A click on subscribe leads to a survey and and that sign-ups are limited at the time. Scroll lists some of its partners, and it is a selection of major sites such as Slate, The Atlantic, Gizmodo, Vox, or The Verge. The participating companies receive subscription money instead of advertising revenue. How the subscription money is split up is unclear and there is no information on Scroll's website about how the money is divided among the participating companies. Will participating publishers get their share based on activity or is it a flat fee instead? Mozilla and Scroll will likely get a cut as well. Subscribers get a handful of other benefits besides supporting sites and accessing these sites without seeing any advertisement: from a seamless experience between mobile and desktop devices to audio versions of articles, and a special app that highlights new content without advertising. Closing Words The idea to get Internet users to pay a small amount of money to get rid of advertisement is not entirely new. The test that Mozilla plans to conduct is very limited at the time, only a handful of publishers support it and while that makes for a good start, it is hard to imagine that this is attractive enough to get a sustainable number of users to sign up. It may be an option for Internet users who are a regular on one or multiple of the sites that joined the experiment, and it may be better than having to deal with sites individually instead. Then again, unless Scroll supports lots of sites, I cannot really see this go far unless the service opens its door for all publishers and reveals how business is conducted. The chance of success is certainly higher with a partner like Mozilla. Source: Mozilla starts test of subscription-based ad-free Internet experience (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  3. Sustaining a content site can be a challenge especially if you’re doing it full time. Ad revenue might not be sufficient and the next best option is to charge subscriptions for selected content, which is a model that’s adopted by a number of mainstream news websites. Now content creators on WordPress or Jetpack-powered websites are able to charge subscriptions easily with its new Recurring Payments feature. It is available now and it is supported in 135 countries. The Recurring Payments is introduced as a monetisation tool for content creators and it can be used to charge for newsletters, monthly donations or sell access to exclusive content through a simplified payment system. It is available to bloggers or creators on any paid WordPress.com plan which starts from USD 49 per year for the personal option. Although the login uses WordPress.com, the payment is handled by Stripe. You can get started by going to the Earn section of WordPress and a Stripe account is needed in order to receive payments. Depending on which WordPress or Jetpack plan you’re on, WordPress will get a cut between 0-8%. On top of that, there are additional transaction fees for Stripe where they will charge 2.9% + USD0.30 per transaction. Overall, it is a hassle-free way for content creators to get monetary support from its readers. The only complaint is the high transaction fees above 10% if you’re on the entry-level WordPress or Jetpack plan. On top of that, it currently accepts credit and debit cards only. If you’re interested, you can check out this guide on WordPress.com. Another alternative for content creators is to go on Patreon which charges a lower 5% fee on monthly income for the basic plan. Would you pay for website content subscription? Let us know in the comments below. Source: 1. Bloggers on WordPress can now charge readers for subscription (via SoyaCincau) - main article 2. A New Way to Earn Money on WordPress.com (via WordPress Blog) - reference to the main article 3. WordPress introduces a new way for bloggers to get paid (via The Verge) - secondary reference to the main article
  4. Twitter is building a subscription platform codenamed Gryphon Three years ago, Twitter considered offering subscriptions for its social media dashboard, TweetDeck. That service would have provided news alerts and analytics to customers willing to pay for a monthly fee, but it didn't materialize. Now, the company appears to be carrying on with its subscription push, if a new job listing is any indication (via VentureBeat). Twitter posted a job opening on its career portal in search for a "Senior Full-stack Software Engineer" who will join its new team, codenamed Gryphon. The listing reveals that the group is developing a subscription platform that can be reused by other teams in the future. It consists of web engineers working with both the payments and Twitter.com teams. The full-stack engineer will be responsible for Gryphon's payment and subscription client work. The team will be distributed across different locations including London, San Francisco, Boston, and New York. The subscription model is seen as a part of Twitter's efforts to explore additional revenue streams beyond advertising, which primarily contributes to its income. It's not clear, though, how the micro-blogging site plans to implement the subscription platform and what services it will offer. Twitter is building a subscription platform codenamed Gryphon
  5. BMW becomes the latest automaker to shut down its subscription service Access by BMW was a $2,000-a-month service that launched in 2018 BMW is suspending its two-year-old car subscription service, The Verge has learned. Access by BMW was launched in 2018 in Nashville as a pilot project to test out whether customers would want to have access to a fleet of fancy cars but not necessarily own one. But recent requests to sign up have been met with a disclaimer that the service is in the process of shutting down. A Nashville resident who was interested in applying for the subscription service was told that it was going to be defunct by the end of January. “Unfortunately the Access by BMW subscription program is ending on January 31st and we are no longer taking new members,” a sales representative said in an email. A BMW spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that BMW was winding down its pilot, though the company appears to be leaving the door open for future experiments. “The Access by BMW vehicle subscription program was launched in Nashville, TN in April of 2018 and was always intended to be a pilot program,” the spokesperson said. “As such, the pilot will conclude at the end of this month. We are in the process of developing the next iteration of Access by BMW and will share more information with you as it becomes available.” The spokesperson declined to share sales numbers but acknowledged that “the program had reached its capacity limits.” Despite the imminent shutdown, the Access by BMW website is still up and running, with a link on the automaker’s North American site redirecting to it. “A new way of driving BMW is coming,” the homepage promises. Access by BMW consisted of two tiers. For $2,000 a month, members could choose between models like the X5 SUV, 4 Series, and 5 Series sedans, including all plug-in hybrid versions. For the higher-tier $3,700-a-month fee, they could get M4, M5, or M6 convertibles as well as X5M and X6M SUVs. (BMW’s highest-end 7 Series was not available through the service). The fee included insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance. If that seems a bit pricey, you’re not wrong. The top-tier $3,700-a-month plan is almost three times the cost of leasing an M5 sedan in the Nashville area (though a lease requires a down payment of $5,724 and doesn’t include insurance and maintenance). Subscriptions have been a mixed bag for the auto industry. Ford walked away from its service last fall following low demand. Cadillac shut down its service Book in 2018, only to resurrect it several months later with fewer options. Last summer, Mercedes-Benz pulled the plug its Collection subscription service, citing mediocre sales. Other automakers have had some success. Porsche, Audi, Volvo, Nissan, and Jaguar are still offering some variation of a subscription service. Even the big car rental companies, Hertz and Enterprise, are getting in on the action. Most of these subscriptions are only available in specific cities and are still in the pilot phase. Source: BMW becomes the latest automaker to shut down its subscription service
  6. Bandsintown launches monthly subscription service, giving fans 25 exclusive concerts a month $10 a month for 25 exclusive shows Rich Fury/Getty Images for Visible Attending an actual concert still isn’t a good idea in the United States, so Bandsintown is launching a monthly subscription service that will stream a number of exclusive shows directly into customers’ homes. Called Bandsintown Plus, the $10 monthly service pays for 25 shows a month, according to the company. Artists signed on to play shows include Phoebe Bridgers, Tycho, Flying Lotus, Soccer Mommy, Chromeo, and Little Dragon to name a few. Customers will also receive additional perks, including “intimate chats with artists” and access to performances on other platforms, according to the company. The first show kicks off this month, with artists scheduled through January and February. Musicians will receive a flat fee for each performance, Fabrice Sergent, managing partner of Bandsintown, told The Verge. Some of the artists are provided with studio access in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville, and a select group of artists will be provided with a host for live Q&A sessions for fans to participate in. “THE REALITY IS THAT WE SAW THAT FANS WERE WATCHING LIVE STREAMS FROM PLACES THAT WE HAD NEVER SEEN PEOPLE WATCHING LIVE MUSIC BEFORE” While the shows are exclusive to Bandsintown, artists aren’t. Sergent understands that while Bandsintown is experiencing a growth in users (before the pandemic, less than 30 percent of people watched live streams, but that number grew to just under 75 percent by October 2020), there are other platforms with much bigger audiences. He sees Bandsintown as complementary to other streams and to live performances once those return. The pandemic helped prove there was a customer base willing to watch live music online, and that helped spur the monthly subscription offering. “The reality is that we saw that fans were watching live streams from places that we had never seen people watching live music before,” Sergent said. Currently, Bandsintown has 60 million registered users. Sergent declined to say how many people use the service monthly or how long they stay on the site. More information about those metrics will come at a later date, Sergent added. Right now, his focus is on building up the subscription service, which is exclusive to the US right now, but the company is hoping to expand it into international territories soon. Building up the subscription offering also includes finding incentives to get people to sign up, including figuring out better ways to sell exclusive artist merchandise. The goal is to have merchandise natively integrated into the service. Bandsintown’s teams want to find ways to support artists, Sergent said, but the company is also trying to jump on a booming trend and transform it into a revenue stream that exists long after the pandemic ends. “We’re opening gates to something new that will stay beyond the pandemic, and will be complimentary to an in-person show.” Source: Bandsintown launches monthly subscription service, giving fans 25 exclusive concerts a month
  7. Last year Adobe announced a shift away from boxed products in favor of a cloud-based subscription model. Now the U.S.-based company says that not only does it have more than 2.3 million cloud subscribers, but it has also seen a drop in piracy. Exactly how much is "hard to measure" but Adobe products still lead the way with pirates. There can be little doubt that Adobe products are a crowd pleaser among digital creatives. Designers love them, photographers and videographers do too, and Adobe’s Photoshop, Flash and Acrobat brands are recognized worldwide. But while millions of people use Adobe’s premium products, not everyone pays for that privilege. Unauthorized Photoshop releases have been appearing on computers worldwide for 25 years and other Adobe products are regularly pirated close to their launch. Over time this has led Adobe to invest substantial sums of money on anti-piracy measures including DRM and even legal action. But there are other ways to deal with the problem. In May last year and much to the disappoint of Adobe’s millions of pirate ‘customers’, the company announcemend that it would be changing the way it does business. Boxed products, a hangover from the last decade and earlier, would be phased out and replaced with a cloud-based subscription model. On the one hand, many pirates heard the word “cloud” and associated that with a lack of local machine control, something that can cause issues when trying to run unlicensed software. Adobe, on the other hand, appeared to be looking at product development and the piracy problem from a different angle. While attempts at hacking its cloud service would present another technical barrier to piracy, with its new offering the tech giant also looked towards making its product more affordable. A few dollars a month rather than $700 in one go was aimed at providing an economic reason for even the most budget-restricted not to pirate. But has the strategy worked? According to new comments from Fabio Sambugaro, VP of Enterprise Latin America at Adobe, unauthorized use of the company’s products is definitely down since the cloud switch. “Piracy has fallen,” Sambugaro says. “It’s hard to measure, but we’ve seen many companies seeking partnerships that in the past wouldn’t have done so.” According to information released to investors last month, Adobe exited quarter two this year with 2,308,000 subscribers of its Creative Cloud service, an increase of 464,000 over the first quarter of 2014. The company attributed 53% of the company’s quarter two revenue to “recurring sources” such as its Creative and Marketing Cloud services. So have the pirates given up on Adobe? In a word, no. One only has to scour the indexes of the world’s most popular torrent sites to see that Photoshop, Photoshop Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere, Indesign, After Effects and Acrobat Pro all take prominent places in the charts of most-popular torrents. No surprise then that on The Pirate Bay, Photoshop CS6 – the last version of Photoshop before the cloud switch – is king of the software downloads by a long way. Also, and contrary to fears aired by pirates alongside Adobe’s original strategy change announcement, the cloud has not made it impossible to run unauthorized versions of Photoshop CC 2014, for example. Expected functional restrictions aside, torrent sites have plenty of working copies of Creative Cloud releases, but is this necessarily a bad thing? There are those who believe that some level of piracy is useful as a try-before-you-buy option on a traditionally expensive product such as Photoshop. But what makes this notion even more interesting today is that Adobe’s switch to the cloud – and its much lower price point for entry – may see people investing a few dollars a month for increased functionality and a simple life, instead of one spent jumping through hoops with an inferior and oftentimes awkward product. And Adobe knows it. “I do not think people who pirate our software do it because they are bad people, or because they like to steal things. I just think that they decided that they can not afford it,” said Adobe’s David Wadhwani previously. “And now, with the switch to subscriptions and with the ability to offer software at a cheaper price, we see that the situation is beginning to change and we’re excited.” Richard Atkinson, Corporate Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy, admitted last year that the company would move away from “enforcement-led anti piracy” to a “business-focused pirate-to-pay conversion program.” If the company is to be believed, that is now paying off. Source: TorrentFreak
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