Will users pay for Twitter in the future?

Twitter has become one of the most popular social networking websites as the number of users has grown tremendously over the past few years. A substantial number of users have remained addicted with tweeting new updates and replying to tweets of celebrities and friends alike. It is fast becoming a trend and social media is here to stay. However, observers were in for a shock when the results of the latest Annenberg Digital Future Study came into picture. The highlight of the study was the finding that people would not pay to use Twitter.

According to the annual study by the Center for the Digital Future, 49% of internet users said that they had used micro-blogs such as Twitter. However when asked whether they would want to pay for Twitter, zero percent said yes. Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, said that such an extreme finding reflected the difficulty of getting Internet users to pay for anything that they already received for free. The most amazing finding was that not even few people found enough value in Twitter to pay for it. An important question comes up which is whether any extra features or anything substantial would get people to pay, as it had happened with cable / satellite television. There were several other findings of the report. The study showed that almost half of the respondents said that they would never click on Web advertising, while as much as 70% said that they found Internet advertising annoying.

What people feel about paying for social networking websites was further reinforced by their opinions on online advertising. Although 70% found it annoying, 55% said that they would rather see web advertisements than pay for content. Although Twitter had no plans to charge its users, the result illustrated the problem of transforming them into paying users.

More findings reflect that almost 82% of Americans use the Internet. This percentage was 80% some time back. Now the average time spent online has gone up to 19 hours every week. In the two most recent Digital Future Studies, the largest year to year increases in weekly Internet use have been reported. As age decreases, Internet use continues to increase. Among Americans in the age group of 46-55 years, 19 per cent are non-users whereas in the age group of 36 to 45, 15 percent are non-users.

56% of the users aged 16 and above said that communication technology makes the world a better place to live in. However this percentage was as high as 66% in 2002. 56% of the respondents ranked newspapers as very important sources of information but below both the internet (78%) and television (68%). To sum up, the survey no doubt indicates the unprecedented dependency of the users on the Internet. At the same time, however, it indicates the growing concern about the users’ trust in the technology. As Jeffrey I.  Cole says it seems that we are going into ‘online overload’.

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