CEA’s pivot: no more paywall

I can drop the phrase “subscription required” from my self-promotional vocabulary: The Consumer Electronics Association is closing its Tech Enthusiast site and moving my contributions from there to its existing CE.org site.

With that move, announced in a press release on the Arlington, Va., trade association’s site, you can now read my weekly post for free. (The latest looks into the inconsistent history of granting exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s “anti-circumvention” rules; it should be up soon it’s up now on CEA’s Digital Dialogue blog.) They plan to keep the TE site up until Jan. 31; if your membership runs through Feb. 1, you should get a refund.

Attentive readers will recall that I only started writing for TE three months ago, so this might seem like a rapid pivot. But take a moment to think about the underlying goal here. It wasn’t to lock in an extra revenue stream (though nobody at CEA would have minded that); it was to get more people tuned into the organization’s interests, as I wrote in November 2010 when this program launched. That incentive may explain why CEA twice dropped the price of a TE membership, first from $49 to $29 and then down to $9 with a discount code.

Many news organizations have faced this same issue, but CEA’s membership dues and other existing revenue sources mean it doesn’t need to finance its Web operations from reader subscriptions or advertising revenue. So I’m not surprised to see the organization end the paywall experiment in favor of a free, consumer-focused portal featuring my work. (CEA’s release calls my insights “invaluable”; I don’t know about that, but I hope they’re worth what they pay me.)

Ending the need to log in to read my weekly ruminations on the state of the electronics industry opens other interesting possibilities that would have been less viable behind a paywall. I’ve already suggested to the folks at CEA that I start doing Web chats like those I used to host at the Post, and they seem interested. If you’ve got other suggestions, the comments are all yours.

(Edited 12/16, 10:16 p.m. Added a link to the DMCA post.)


7 thoughts on “CEA’s pivot: no more paywall

  1. Pingback: The last few hours in links :) (December 14th, 2011 from 12:43 to 15:51) | PRCog's Gear Grindings

  2. And offline gatherings — still “chats” — in bars, restaurants, other settings.
    How about a RobP Meetup; maybe CEA spring for drinks and treats at first few to get things rolling…

  3. It is good the CEA will continue to reach out to consumers with interest in electronics. The question is which type of consumer — the enthusiast which implies above average knowledge? How about those consumers who are interested but baffled by the rapid changes occurring? The challenge here is for most individual consumers their interest often is linked to when they want to buy a particular product and trying to figure what is best for them.

    CEA’s effort to figure out how to promote and support their members and industry in ways that are beneficial to consumers while not affecting the competition that exists among companies is an area other industry associations are struggling with as well. The Internet now provides associations with affordable tools to reach consumers not available to associations even a decade ago.

    So for what it is worth, here are some thoughts on services CEA can consider offering that can be beneficial to both consumers and their corporate members:
    — I agree with others your tech chats are useful and suggest could be focused on helping consumers make decisions — factors to consider — when making a purchase without doing competitive product comparisons like Walt Mossberg does. Also a post CES chat discussing what new products created a buzz at the show would be fun. Even an end of day chat during the show would be interesting but obviously a lot of work for you.

    —— Continue new product beta test offers and from CEA members — when registering members ask for their product areas of interest to better ensure opportunities go to the people most interested in those products,

    —— Inform registered consumers about CEA consumer offerings through regular e-mail newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn updates to ensure reach registered consumers in the manner prefer to be informed. As a CEA Tech Enthusiast Member I was not aware of much that was being offered unless I proactively searched it out,

    —— Special consumer electronics week, month or day to promote special, discounted offers from members. Similar events are being successfully conducted by US Travel Association and Shop.org with their corporate members and with a portion of the sales even going to support their foundations,

    —— A new product news release from CEA members that allow registered consumers to subscribe by product area. So if I am interested in keeping abreast of new television products, I can register to get only those releases from members.

    I look forward to seeing how CEA moves forward to help its members and consumers better connect with each other.

  4. Pingback: Weekly output: New-computer setup, Facebook Timeline, Twitter custody, podcast (plus republished CEA TE posts) | Rob Pegoraro

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