Twitter has denied it is to begin charging in Japan after a partner company was "misunderstood". Reports filtered across the Web this weekend that a subscription model is to be introduced for Japanese tweeters, who would pay to read tweets and earn money from their own postings.
The payment options in this potential model are a monthly subscription or pay-per-tweet. 70 per cent of the cash goes into your pocket -- Twitter takes only takes 30 per cent. Monthly fees could range from 70p to £7, paid directly or as part of your mobile bill.
The Japanese version of Twitter already has adverts and offers its own mobile app. Twitter in Japan is run by a company called Digital Garage. Kenichi Sugi of DG Mobile, a mobile subsidiary of Digital Garage, discussed a paid model at mobile content conference Mobidec last week. This was reported as the start of tiered, paid accounts in Japan, but Digital Garage has distanced itself from DG Mobile in a post on the Japanesee Twitter blog. According to the statement, "neither Twitter Inc. nor Digital Garage have discussed or have any plans for paid-premium accounts."
It's still food for thought, however. Until now, most of the talk about monetising Twitter has been about a freemium model: basic access for free, with extra features or access to high-demand feeds for those who pay.
Instead of charging users to tweet, this japanese model charges readers to read tweets. This puts the money in consumption of Twitter as a broadcast medium. In other words, it's like paying your license fee to watch the BBC rather than paying to host a blog. It also turns tweeters into content producers, with the option to earn money for for their links, pictures and 140-character missives. We're on board with the idea of earning pennies for our thoughts, but it'd be tricky to keep the service from getting too commercial. And so the saga of Twitter's business model rumbles on.