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A $10 Accessory Proves Smartphones Are Too Big (wsj.com)
76 points by forgingahead 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 124 comments

Alternative headline that could have been written for years: "A $10 Accessory Proves Smartphones Are Too Fragile"

We've been happily buying and adding accessories to our phones for years now, be it cases or external battery packs or lanyards or wallets. It especially makes sense in parts that are damageable, external facing, easily replaceable, and can be manufactured by anyone with some basic geometry specifications.

I would also argue that a $10 accessory is just that: a $10 accessory. It solves multiple real problems, the biggest of which I would argue is that holding a phone stable for a selfie is naturally unconducive due to its geometry. If people want the added use of this device, be it for holding, propping, or hooking into their car, great, go ahead and spend those ten dollars. I would prefer my phone to be thinner and not catch on things in my pocket.

For lack of a better term, this is basic modularity for your phone: if you want a feature, go ahead and add it. If you don't, no problem! Everyone doesn't need to get the same thing. We've been ogling modular phones for a while now here on HN; it just turns out it may be starting with selfie-accessories and not swappable camera units.

My mother absolutely loves hers. My students last semester all had them. About a third of my friend have them. Some of them just see them as another accessory to put on their phone. I don't care for one since my phone fits in my hand just fine and I never take selfies. Point being, if you want one for whatever reason, great! If you don't, great! That's the point of accessories.

I came here to say this. It does not make sense to add bloated features that are not essential to everyone's use case.

the reason i put phone in case it's not because it's fragile, but because glass it's slippery, could not even place it on sofa without sliding down

I stretch a rubber band around two corners of my iPhone 7 Plus to make it easier to grip. It provides friction on these two corners, and across the entire back, which makes holding and propping easy.

Each band lasts a couple months, and they come free with celery, broccoli, and asparagus!


edit: clarified visual description

Pretty cool. Looks like it would work great with flat-edged phones (like the iPhone 4-SE), and could work on the back of curved phones. How do you use it?

Sorry for the slow reply. I put two vertical stips on the back of my devices where my fingers rest. Or like on my surface pro horizontally but closer to the edge just to catch my fingers if it starts slipping out my hand.

I think the most curved device I have it on is my kindle. These are pliable enough that they should fit some pretty serious curves.

If it works for you, that's great but typically you need a phone case anyway to mitigate drop damage and as a bonus the case will give you extra grip.

I use a leather flip case with a silicon holder for the part that takes the phone, it survives frequent drops really well and I never have to worry about loose change, keys damaging the screen.

Used the same kind all the way back to my first smartphone and they still look like new a couple of years on.

The latest one has slots for a credit card and cash so it's more efficient in that I can lose everything all on one go.

Haha. I have the same style of case. Protects the screen from quite a lot of abuse, especially when I just want to throw it in a bag with other stuff. But the big risk is losing my phone now means losing cards, driving licence etc. Although I am also slightly more scared about losing it so I havent.

wow, I'm going to do this. Thanks for the photo. I assumed you wrapped the rubber band around like a frame/bumper, which I wouldn't like. The naked phone is slippery, but a full case seems to drag things out of my pocket.

I originally tried to see if a rubber band could wrap around like a bumper (as you describe), and it didn't stay. Instead, it fell off into this general shape, and after a few adjustments I found a shape that doesn't block the screen and makes it really easy to hold.

Or... lack of $10 accessory on the vast majority of smartphones disproves theory that smartphones are too big.

Seriously, I would like a larger phone — about the size of a Kindle or an iPad mini (without the bezels / home button). Right now I have an iPhone and a 9.7" iPad that I'm regretting purchasing. They both do almost exactly the same thing. The iPad is a second-class citizen, both for apps (no Health app, weather app etc) and for the physical camera which is always a few generations / features behind. It has a larger screen and a longer battery, and is better for reading letter-size PDFs. That's about it. It will not replace my laptop in any reasonable way. So, now I have 3 things to carry, charge and keep in sync.

The great one-handed experience of the iPhone 4 through 5s/SE isn't lost on me, but I don't spend the majority of my life hanging on to a subway pole (though it seems like it sometimes). I just want a bigger phone. I promise to only use bluetooth for calls and not to hold it up to my face like a modern-day Gordon Gekko.

I am in the same boat. Or May be it isn't really a phone any more. I think WhatsApp and Gaming takes up 90% of my usage on my phone. I could do WhatsApp even on an iPhone SE size phone. For Gaming it depends, 6.5" Max barely fits for my big hands, I would love to have a 7" devices for gaming.

I am starting to think may be it should have been two separate devices for these two functions.

iPhone XS Max? 6.5" screen vs the 7.9" of the iPad Mini

You are comparing screen sizes; you should instead compare physical device sizes.

iphone xs max: 6.20 x 3.05 x 0.30 in and 208g

ipad mini: 8.0 x 5.3 x 0.24 in and 298g

  area: 44%

  volume: 55%

I must admit I'm slightly bewildered because it seems like there are a number of smaller smartphones out there on the market. If people generally thought their phones were too big, why wouldn't they just go and buy the smaller ones? I don't think manufacturers have been pulling these sizes out of their backsides, isn't it all based off of sales data and market research by this point?

There certainly are still cheap feature phones knocking about for more basic use cases as well. I just can't quite work out what the author is asking for. I mean okay, the author makes quite a good case for popsockets but that doesn't seem to translate into his other, less salespitchy, more "profound" sounding point about smartphones being "too big".

> why wouldn't they just go and buy the smaller ones?

Because the smaller form factors generally have a lot of features pulled: whether it be screen pixel density, compass, camera, or battery/phone time, etc.

More and more I love the old style phones: smaller screen and heaps of battery by having a thicker body... but it seems that no-one else agrees with me on this point, so it's always thinner, thinner, thinner and bigger screens.

I'd love to buy an 'iPhone FatBoy 6' or 'Google Pixel Brick'. In a form factor that is thicker, we have more room for better camera optics, bigger batteries, other goodies, and not to mention - easier to hold!

I'm with you on this. In fact, I predict that in another 2-3 years, the dominant form factor will start to move away from what looks good on advertisements and in the showroom, to what is usable.

My personal belief is that the future form factor will be a smaller, somewhat egg shaped device that you can comfortably nestle in your palm. It will be thicker, but about the same weight as current phones, so less denser and more shock resistant. You will be able to operate it with just one hand, perhaps with physical controls on the periphery or the back surface of the device. Perhaps it will support a "squeeze" gesture.

I wish you were right, but I doubt it. For an increasing number of people the smartphone is their main or only computing device, which is why they prefer a bigger screen. In contrast to most people around here actual practical, mobile use isn't their primary concern since they don't have a second, much bigger screen for more complex tasks. I don't see this trend slowing down.

All I really want is for the camera to keep improving. The rest of the phone is fine IMHO and has been for maybe three years now. A better camera is really the only thing that makes me want to upgrade.

The iPhone 8 was good enough for Steven Soderbergh to make a feature length movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzVAdUIBBSk

Dr Seuss wrote a book using only 50 words, which went on to sell millions[1]. A great artist can produce great work without being constrained by the medium. That does not mean the medium can/should not be improved further.

That said, depending on the majority use cases, the iPhone 8 camera is plenty.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Eggs_and_Ham

With professional lighting. Vastly reduces the difference between a large sensor on a pro camera and the small ones in phones.

I'm no Soderbergh. He could probably shoot an Oscar winning feature a ten year old Flip camera.

I get what you are saying though. I kind of wish Google or Apple would license their tech to one of the companies still building large-sensor cameras (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, etc...) to see what could be done with even more data.

Lots of people (including me) say they want a thicker iPhone, but when Apple released the XR, one of the first complaints was that it's too thick.

Aren't there official iPhone battery packs?

Well, I for one hate large phones. I consider my smartphone as a tool for trivial things, using it almost exclusively with one hand, and it starts hurting after a while. Especially when reaching to the top section of the screen. Buying a smaller phone would usually mean to go with the lower end specs or older generation, which kind of bugs me. I don't play games with it or something, but it must be fast and responsive at all times and have a good camera, too. That's really hard to find these days though. I'm still using a Samsung S7 currently which kind of balances these requirements, but I'm afraid I'll have to move on to one of those giant slabs once it breaks... It's hard to explain. I'm quite possibly the last of my circle to stick with the smaller smart phones, but it seems so comfortable to me being able to easily pull it out of my pocket, type something with one hand and put it back, all while being able to do what I was doing in parallel.

This is exactly it. Large phones enable large screens and large specs. People rank those above size.

Have you looked at the Sony Xperia Compact line? They're the only small form factor premium smartphones that I know of.

I had one. Shame about the bloatware and the fact the waterproof display was impossible to use when wet and the 20mp camera was crap, worse than a 7mp one in practice.

The supposedly water resistant phone accumulate so much dust by the camera lens that it became completely unusable after 6 months. The original Z1 Compact was ace though, I kept it for years. I wish there existed an equivalent model up to today's standard, especially if it wasn't made by Sony.

There's actually nothing out there smaller than 5" apart from iPhones (the older ones), the Sony XZ2 compact and old, bottom of the barrel Androids.

Agreed, it recently became impossible to find compact phones that don't need to be removed from one's pocket before sitting when wearing jeans.

I think we need to seriously entertain the possibility that the market doesn't work. Apple made increasingly large phones last year, cancelling the smallest phone in the lineup which was the same size as their largest phone in 2012. Apple also reported disappointing sales, especially as a result of people choosing not to upgrade, and especially in China where average hand size is less than in the US and where (afaik) these accessories to attach to the back of your phone first gained popularity.

How could the market fail to account for consumer preferences in this way? I have a hypothesis: there are only a few manufacturers of top-of-the-line phones, and they want more space for more electronics (including more battery life). If those manufacturers all decide on their own that people want big phones, customers who want up-to-date smartphones will relax their preferences for small phones, and it won't get communicated. And cheaper phones will follow the lead of the more famous and more successful ones. But I think there are lots of other possibilities hypotheses here and the general class of answers of the form "the market is failing to reflect customer preferences" is likely worth investigating.

I have always found that when I have upgraded to a larger phone it has felt too big for about a week, then it becomes my new normal and the old one seem too small.

I generally choose by price point these days and not a single feature.

OT: The outline page claims, "We remove the clutter", and yet it has a giant footer ad that clutters the page. Why can't we have nice things ?

I've turned off my adblocker and I don't see what you're referring to.

It's the medium style bar at the bottom that follows you around. If you are on chrome/chromium, it says "get outline for google chrome"

Because someone is always trying to monetize nice things which ruins it in the process. Sad, monetized world we live in.

My comment was a response to a comment which was also a response to another comment. How did mine become standalone?

Likely a mod detached the extensive off-topic subthread.

Or the phone designers can put bezels back in, so I have somewhere to grip the phone without it thinking I'm pinch zooming. Even just top and bottom bezels - then you can even get rid of the notch. Odd that the author is implying such advanced tech like foldable screens is the solution to holding your phone.

If you're having a hard time visualizing what this thing is, and why it's helpful for a big phone: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0727/0205/products/Custom_...

It's confusing at first searching, because they also made a popular thing to mount your phone on a dashboard. The picture above is specifically their "grip" product.

Also, popsockets were kickstarted back in 2012 (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1250439912/popsockets-i... ), back when iPhones were small (though there were some large android/windows phones being sold)


"Resolved: Apple should make iPhone for the human hands that hold it, not just the eyes and fingertips that invoke its software. ... Now we can update Jobs' "[design is] not just what it looks like ... [but] how it works" for iPhone. What is design for Apple in 2017? ... Design is how it gleams, how it works, and how it shatters."

The obsession with "thin" has produced devices which are totally unnatural to type on.

My old BB Classic was one of the best pure communication devices I've ever owned. I could write long multi-paragraph emails on that thing hardly ever needing correction.

Many of my clients are lawyers, and I noticed that the legal community was one of the last holdouts on BB platform. Namely, because anyone whose job requires lengthy written communication, it provided the best balance of form and function. Even being careful, it seems impossible to type more than 2 or 3 words in succession without needing to correct something on Apple phones.

Apple has been hiding their bad (near abysmal) ergonomics behind the success of their app store. I wonder how long it will last? Sadly, I think the whole management team now has too much hubris to ever change course and will continue to double-down on ever thinner devices with 1/2 day battery life.

Your could try installing Google gboard and have an Android user show you how to swipe to write.

Almost anyone who uses a keyboard at work will become fast on gboard within a few minutes.

You certainly don't need to correct one in three words.

Gboard is terrible. I have to correct one in two words. It's ok for long words but I mostly use short words, and it usually gets those wrong.

I kinda have to agree. I'm constantly trying to teach Gboard new words because I'm in Japan and it doesn't know things like "takadanobaba". It eventually learns it, remembers it for a little bit, and then...forgets it? I don't know if it has an LRU cache and I don't use it often enough that it gets evicted, but it's frustrating. That and the fact that a comma button doesn't exist and isn't configurable, but we'll make extra sure you have an emoji button!

Gboard is really great; several months back, they even added a feature to "correct" the previous word based on the new one you just typed, so sometimes a mistake is corrected before I even notice it.

While I generally like the gboard, it's not quite as good as swype was. Also, I do have to correct quite a bit as more commonly used words in one scenario tend to be preferred over less common in another. It's surprising how many different words have similar paths. Worse when you try to do a quick message, then have to edit and people are already replying to the original/messed up entry. Two or three wrong words in a row can really change the context of a message.

Similarly, I had a nokia phone that would flip to a split keyboard on either side of the screen. I LOVED taking notes on that thing... It wouldn't take much for me to be more than happy with something similar if it were easy enough to pair with a tablet for mobile data.

Aside, I really wish there were an open entertainment specification for cars over bluetooth. Where the onboard entertainment/navigation system were incredibly barebones, but when tethered to a device, the device would take control of those interfaces. Only entertainment and maybe a/c, where any onboard control interfaces would just trade screens between onboard/offboard controls.

My 2.5yo car already feels ancient, not that I loved the entertainment interfaces to begin with. And bluetooth has always been a bit of a sour point. Would still be nice to see a well testable standard for integration that worked across devices/platforms.

Another explanation is that attorneys are late adopters. It fits the anecdotal evidence just as well.

Why are you typing when the voice transcription is now good enough to do several paragraphs with perfect punctuation and paragraph breaks, and very little error?

I honestly doubt that's true. I'm a non-native speaker, sure, but:

a) When I tried it with my iPhone, there were a lot of errors (1 or 2 per paragraph; I can make a lot fewer of those)

b) A lot of errors were quite subtle, making it difficult to correct

Additionally, I don't want to send my text to any cloud before even sending it. AFAIK, both Apple and Google send the voice recording to them to analyse it, which makes me say "hell naw" to transcriptions.

Bottom line: not interested in voice transcription.

Voice transcription is not always an option. It works decently for English if you are only using it to transcribe simple, daily texts and you are not in public. For other languages or more complex topics, you quickly hit the limit of what voice transcription can do. In public, you may also not want to say everything out loud that you are about to text to someone.

Voice transcription is not usable, especially Apple’s and Google’s. Yesterday I tried to enter a simple reminder: “check Rule 50 deadlines.” It always auto-corrected to “Route 50.”

About half the time when I enter a simple reminder the result is so bad I can’t figure out what was originally intended.

absolutely.. I have an nvidia shield tv, and a new 4k fire stick... neither does particularly well with recognition. Google does have more data and slightly better for me, Amazon slightly better for unknown operators.

if you think this way you'll gradually go back to button and clamshell era (which I'd welcome)

I'd buy a phone with a keyboard and a touchscreen. I remember an old nokia one i had that had a slide out keyboard. I've had the touchscreen randomly stop working a couple times on my current phone and it gets extremely frustrating fairly quickly. I know you can USB or Bluetooth ones. But something built in would be nice. Your phone suddenly becomes essentially useless when the touchscreen randomly ceases functioning while you're out somewhere and you can't do anything.

They exist if you don't mind an Android: https://blackberrymobile.com/product/blackberry-key2/

How likely is it that the Key 2 will receive security patches past two years? That's the main reason I stick with Samsung or would suggest a Pixel (or an iPhone) right now.

Doesn't Google guarantee updates for Pixel for only 18 months?

I have big hands and can hold any any phone, but prefer to use a Pop Socket because it is simply easier to hold the phone with it. I also like having a big screen. This guy is just trying to be a provocateur.

Welcome to native advertising.

IPhone 5s was borderline usable. Everything larger else is unsubtle with one hand. On a positive side, now I much rarely look onto my phone.

I find that a very interesting perspective. I've only used Huge phones -- Galaxy Nexus, LGv10, Note9, and find single handed usage effortless. I have typical hands for a 5'9" man. My 5'2" daughter also uses a big phone and has never complained.

On the other hand as a person who needs reading glasses, the bigger screens have been an absolute godsend, and when I try and use my older Ipod touch everything is miniscule -- especially the keyboard.

I guess it all comes down to preference. I've never thought of a typical US checkbook as being too big for anything, and these "huge" phones are about that size.

I'm in the same category; my EYES just aren't good enough for small phones and I have jumped on every larger iPhone even though I can't completely use everything one handed. I'd even take an even larger phone (~ "small iPad") if I can find a way to hold it. It's a trade-off and we do not all have the same constraints and preferences.

You might be interested in a Xiaomi Mi Max 3 or a Huawei Honor Note 10

I can use large phones with one hand (Note 9, LG V20)... perhaps my hand is larger than average. I don't think there are than many uses cases where I absolutely need one hand. Driving here we legally are required to have a cellphone mount.


And we are also not even able to make apps usable on them.

I have a Samsung S9 now (business phone) and i had a xperia compact before. Why the fuck are so many apps main navigation controles atop and not at the bottom right corner?

I do have big hands and can hold that phone quite okayisch but...

Nonsense! I love my large smartphone. What I hate is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Normally never click on that but since this is a wsj article...

The web link now links to duckduckgo instead of Google, the actually article is not in the first page of result. Where as in Google, it's the first result. I understand the desire to help the little player but seems like this is more discouraging than encouraging people to switch.

There's a bunch of modern feature phones running KaiOS[1] like the CAT B35[2]. Comes with 4G, Wifi, Bluetooth, and you can run web apps on it. And there's some that even run Android [3] [4]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KaiOS [2] https://www.techradar.com/reviews/cat-b35 [3] https://www.gsmarena.com/energizer_hardcase_h240s-8981.php [4] https://www.gsmarena.com/results.php3?nYearMin=2015&sFormFac...

I remember after the Google Nexus 7 thinking, I wish I could just make calls on the thing. I rarely use my phone next to my face, preferring speaker or Bluetooth integration. The size was about perfect for casual use. My Pixel 2XL is pretty close, but not quite as nice imho.

I also tend to set the max font size etc, and don't care as much as most about pixel density. That's just me though.

All of that said, if someone wants a better case or a holder, let them buy it... what's $10 as an after-market item would add $40 to the phone for the people that don't want it.

Are there any phones/tablets with built in grip? Or is that too much of a transgression aginst holy rounded rectangle?

The only thing I can think of is yoga tablet.

I finally decided to get rid of my pop socket and pre-ordered this: https://finchandmole.com - hard to know if it will work, but it looks promising (and a lot better than a piece of plastic).

hm. Yeah, there is an argument for working around the shortcomings (longcomings? largecomings?) of modern cellphones with accessories.

As a younger person, I used belt holsters for my cellphones. Around the time of the iphone 5, (incidentally, when I jumped on the apple phone bandwagon) i switched to wearing pants with a special cellphone pocket, which isn't big enough for the big cellphones, but velcros closed (which I think is essential, for phones are slippery and are far more likely to slip out when sitting in chairs designed for short people than a wallet or keys are) - also, the special pocket means no fishing around in your pocket for the phone.

Now that I carry a separate phone for work, man, I've had a hard time of it. but... why don't I just order a belt clip for the work phone? Done. $15, and it will be on my desk, most likely, when I get in to work on Tuesday.

I use two phones, iPhone 7 and Note 9. I actually prefer the Note 9 because it is easier on my eyes. The iPhone is handy for tight jean pockets but it gets used far less.

My Note, I can do all sorts of work in a hurry and it feels fine. The iPhone I can do all the same but the size of screen means I prefer not to use it excessively unless needed.

Smartphones have, in general, plateaued. The next big jump in tech will make phone screen sizes and a lot of other useless measurements obsolete. https://www.vuzix.com/products/blade-smart-glasses

For me a smartphone is a mini laptop. Its needs a big screen more than it needs to make selfies.

My Nokia Lumia was too slick, so I put clear skateboard tape on the back.

As I age into my mid thirties, I'm ok with large screens and fonts.

7 inch phones are a new hit in China... will we soon see 8 inchers?

I'm guessing the accessory is the pop socket, but it's too far down the article and hence hidden by the paywall. The little glue-on rings people used on their phones are another contender, but those seem to be on the outs.

I admit, I've always these devices to be so perplexing. Why would I want to make my phone awkwardly thick in just one spot?

I had an iPhone 7+. Hated it. Easily the worst iPhone I ever owned; replacing it with an X, which actually fits in my hand, has been the best phone decision ever, particularly because it's also my favorite iPhone ever.

But mostly-- buy a phone that fits in your hand and pocket.

> Why would I want to make my phone awkwardly thick in just one spot?

So you have something that snaps out that you can use to hold it in a one-handed grip somewhere nearer the middle of the phone.

Also it give you something to use as a tiny stand if you wanna prop the phone up to watch video/read/otherwise use it hands-off.

TLDR: Pop socket makes it easier to hold onto your phone

And at the same time highlights a ludicrous failure of product design.

Are articles behind pay walls supposed to be posted to HN? That seems like something that would be discouraged here.

From the FAQ (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html):

> "Are paywalls ok?"

> "It's ok to post stories from sites with paywalls that have workarounds."

> "In comments, it's ok to ask how to read an article and to help other users do so. But please don't post complaints about paywalls. Those are off topic."

How do you read the article?

Take the viewable title of the article:

"A $10 Accessory Proves Smartphones Are Too Big"

Paste it in to google, and click the first link that takes you back to that website.

Due to google's requirements of the search bot seeing what normal people can see when coming from google, they have to honor this...

This doesn't always work for me. When it doesn't, I open a private window and try again, since some sites set a cookie, but even then it sometimes doesn't work.

Google stopped requiring that a while back.

click image search. A picture is worth 1,000 pay-walled words.

For the WSJ, add the word "full" before wsj in the domain name. You end up on the WSJ site and they use this for an additional viral factor, so Facebook users can see and share the full article.

I'm not sure if you have to have a Facebook account - I think you don't.

WSJ doesn't paywall users coming from Google. Just search for the title and click the outbound link.

google the article headline

Add the following to your bookmarks and click it when you come across a paywall:


This doesn't always work ( i use it with my social bookmarking application. You need incognito mode mostly as well)

Or you could always, you know, subscribe to the WSJ.

The way HN reacts to paywalls is beyond ridiculous. It's like if every comment thread on a story about a Netflix original series was nothing but questions and answers about where to go to torrent it.

Please don't take HN threads on ultra-repetitive tangents like this. It's tedious, and there's no point in rehearsing it in every thread.

One straightforward magnet link solves the Netflix problem. The problem with the web is that running hostile code creates endless types of fuckery, and thus endless ways of sidestepping that fuckery.

If the story was a 20 second clip I would sure hope it's hosted elsewhere and I don't have to buy a full subscription.

I see maybe 1 article every 3 months that I want to read on there. Must I subscribe for this? I'd much rather just skip the article; It wont cause me much unhappiness if I do.

I agree with paying for journalism BUT think about just how important is this particular piece is.

Edit: the last 'is' added.

Another perspective is if it isn't that important, there's little need to read it, much less going out of one's way to bypass a paywall.

This is a fine thought by itself. As long as you don't imply that anyone doing an unimportant action is behaving incorrectly.

In other words, someone that says "I don't care much but I looked anyway" is not a hypocrite.

"I have no interest but I showed interest" Strikes me odd, and should likely be confusing to an observer. It seems an oxymoron which is somewhat analogous to hypocrisy

Only if they say they have absolutely no interest. If they just say it's unimportant, or not worth paying for, there shouldn't be any confusion.

Relatedly, I think it's worth 0 cents to go flip my phone over on the table. But I'm going to do it anyway.

You mean cure FOMO? :D

I really don't mean to be snarky here, but you could pay to read it?

A lot of people on HN dislike advertising, but content creators are going to need to get paid if they want to create good content, and paying for it seems like a great alternative to advertising.

WSJ is having a deal right now where you can get the subscription for $1 for 2 months, which IMO is more than reasonable.

I would, if I could make a micropayment for an individual article.

In an environment where everyone consumes just a few articles each from a very large number of sources, it's not reasonable to expect a monthly subscription to a particular source just for the sake of reading one article. I do pay for an online subscription to one newspaper, but I'm not willing to go back to the days of reading only one newspaper.

I might put up with a reasonable amount of advertising, if it didn't track me around the web, attack me with malware, double my bandwidth usage and run scripts that bog down my computer.

and then how much does it cost after the 2 months? and how hard is it to unsubscribe? and how many people subscribe to read a couple of articles then forget about it and end up paying hundreds of dollars in money drained away in drips and drabs in recurring credit card charges?

I like journalism, but it would be really nice to have a better model (I'd even go with pay per article). Subscriptions that you may or may not use have always been a dark pattern, whether it's for journalism or apps or gym memberships.

I'm 100% with you, and I also really would love something better, but I think there are a lot of little issues that still need to be solved (like how micropayments still don't seem to be workable with current credit card systems), and some trust that needs to be built up.

I honestly don't know how it all works with WSJ, but I figured I'd just point out the deal they are having.

It is SUPER hard to unsubscribe, they make you call and jump through hoops.

The model where information is published is going to have to change.

Until it does those who are stuck in the old economic model will suffer.

The concept that you can contain information and retain some value in the distribution of it is obsolete and asking people to pretend that model will still work is silly.

This is not a viable model. First paying $1 to read an article that might or might not be good is not something I’m into and something that would result in lots of spam and SEO if customers actually did that. So $1 for 2 months of WSJ and the 75 other sites linked to from here is not something I can afford.

Second, the mental fatigue from signing up and putting up with their spam for the rest of my life makes me sad just to imagine. Having a business relationship with hundreds of sites is complicated and not fun to manage.

If there was a way to pay a penny and then maybe 10 cents if I like it, I would gladly do it. But publishers value their content higher than that.

Flattr has a good idea where they would divide up your monthly media budget across publishers, but that didn’t take off. Brace Browser is similar.

I think the biggest issue is that I don’t trust publishers because all my interactions with them are unpleasant (eg, intrusive ads, spam, AstroTurf, etc).

The only real action I can take is to Adblock/corcumvent paywalls. That’s something I can do. Hopefully publishers will adjust models and stay in business. But if every paywall site goes out of business, I’m ok with that as well. I think the world would be net better off if we only had BBC/NPR/etc. definitely some downsides, but a net positive.

It breaks the UX of the site - at least sticky a solution so people can read the article

Behind a paywall

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