Introspecting on payment models

I promised to go into further detail on what I mean between ownership and rental and the spaces in between. These are thoughts very much in progress, and with some aspects of it, my thinking on it changes daily.

I have “subscriptions” to certain multimedia/digital services for which I pay a flat monthly fee:

  • ADSL: £25/mo for 20GByte download allowance,
  • eMusic: $10/mo for 40 mp3 track downloads
  • Amazon DVD Rental: £8/mo for four DVD rentals

With my internet access, I try to hit about 75% of my usage allowance in a given month, since usage caps were introduced at my ISP. Before then, I was paying more, getting less than half the throughput, and downloaded significantly less. I feel an internal pressure to get as much as possible out of this “limited” resource….With eMusic, I feel similarly obliged to get as much as possible out of my monthly allowance. I don’t recall a month out of the past nine that I have been a member that I haven’t downloaded my full quota of DRM-free music. I will continue to pay eMusic as long as I find interesting music on the service: somewhere along the line, I’ve decided it to be a good “value.”

Amazon UK’s DVD rental (akin to a “lite” version of NetFlix) gets about 75% usage out of each month’s allowance (currently four discs, was six) with tangible items being shipped around. Interestingly, I perceive it to be much lower: I was ready to estimate it at 60%, but we’ve been running a steady average of about three discs a month, for the past six and twelve months. Does the tangible reminder of the DVD sitting unviewed skew my perception?

I love the freedom of TextDrive’s pricing model for their “life” plans: there have been limited-time offers of web-, application-, and storage hosting for as long as the company exists, for a flat, one-time payment. Even though I would keep certain domain name registrations ticking over on a yearly basis, I never jumped into finding a web host before then. I have paid a total of $600 on hosting with them, and don’t regret it in the least. My bandwidth and disk space usage for the hosting are nowhere near their limits. With the StrongSpace secure backup plan, I’ve jumped in wholeheartedly, backing up 10 Gigabytes of paid-for music files, and other files that add up to 80% usage on my account, already. Joyent remains practically unused.

A flat fee paid for an ongoing service feels like an investment in hardware: the thing may break or become defunct in the future, but it is available now, and has no ongoing maintenance costs. It continues, with known specifications, until it is no longer viable. This reminds me of how I choose and buy computers and other electronic gadgets: I am willing to pay a premium if I can extract a long value-life from a computer, PDA, music player, or mobile phone. I feel like I have a good track record on getting my money’s worth, as well.