Plenty are demanding Facebook to switch to a subscription model. Facebook earns around $15 per month for each user so would you pay that much? Or would you be happy to keep going on the free, share your data approach?
Facebook clearly thinks the former does not work but there were hints in the testimony to Congress that it is being actively considered, whilst still leaving open the option of free access.
I am not sure Facebook gives $15/month of value personally and I do not see Facebook restricting features to paid subscribers to increase that value.
I tend towards the view that take up would therefore be very low initially. But if Facebook fails to change perceptions around its thirst for data, the number of paying users increases over time.
The problem for Facebook is twofold. As those numbers grow, its advertising reach decreases, reducing the value to advertisers. Secondly, the people most likely to pay are the more well off. The very people advertisers will want to reach.
So rolling out subscriptions for any length of time is suicide for Facebook.
Facebook is losing the PR battle right now and they will need to be seen to act. Their privacy update didn’t really have much impact such is the momentum against them right now.
I believe we will eventually see a public trial of a subscription option and then a rapid closing after it fails so that Facebook’s underlying business model is not threatened.