Those who have been wondering how Twitter will ever sustain itself can end their speculations, for the announcement has been made in Japan, which is most likely the test market.
The tidbit on gHacks tells us that the other shoe has dropped in the land of the rising sun –
If you have ever asked yourself how Twitter could be earning revenue from their highly popular messaging service then the latest developments at Twitter Japan might have an answer for you. The development, which is already making the rounds on various news sites such as Techcrunch, Connected Internet or Telegraph.co.uk, is apparently limited to Japan at this point. A country where Twitter was displaying advertisements ever since its official release.
The concept itself is simple. Twitter account holders can opt for a subscription based model from January 2010 on which would only give subscribed users access to the Twitter messages by that account holder. Subscription fees are said to be between $1.50 and $11.50 per month with an option to pay for the ability to view single messages as well.
Billing options include paying per credit card, using their mobile phone bill or to purchase prepaid tickets. Techcrunch have posted an analysis why this subscription based model makes sense to be implemented in Japan. Among the reasons are that it is common in Japan to pay for premium mobile and Internet contents or the character sets which allow Japanese users to add more text than Western users.
It will definitely be interesting to see how this will turn out. Many details are yet to be revealed including the technical realization of the subscription model.
So – do you think enough of the ability to Tweet to pay monthly? Is it really that much better than being able to instant message someone? After what I keep hearing, many people would appreciate the ability to narrowcast rather than putting their musings out for the entire world.