Back in 2003, Apple launched an online music service that charged 99 cents a song. Rational thinkers were perplexed -- why would anyone pay for online music when it's available for free through file sharing services such as Kazza? CNN put the point directly to Steve Jobs, "it's like a lot of things on the Net, Steve, in the sense that when people are accustomed to getting it for free, will they make the move and pay for it".
Although it did not seem so at the time, in hindsight Jobs' response was compelling:
JOBS: Well, let me give you an observation that's really interesting. If you go to Kazaa and you try to find a song, you don't find a single song. You find 50 versions of that song, and you have to pick which one to try to download, and usually it's not a very good connection. You have to try another one, and by the time you finally get a clean version of the song you want, it takes about 15 minutes. If you do the math, that means that you're spending an hour to download four songs that you could buy for under $4 from Apple, which means you're working for under minimum wage.Jobs' insight is not that people would pay for the content. His insight was that people would pay for the convenience. This, and not the content, is what Apple is actually selling to consumers.
What part of the online news experience will people pay for? What is causing people to "work" for under minimum wage? What problem can an online news outlet solve for its consumers?