Blendle is a Dutch startup which aggregates news from media companies that maintain a paywall, then allows users to pay a small amount per article to read what they like. Micropayments make the barrier to access much lower than a monthly subscription, and readers can even get their money back if they aren't satisfied with the story. Up until now, the US version was desktop only, but today the company is rolling out mobile apps for both iOS and Android.
The apps will draw on digital replicas of around 300 print publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Financial Times. Old media companies like The New York Times and Germany's Axel Springer, which recently bought Business Insider, are also investors in Blendle. The company has been around for two years and notched 650,000 users so far. It hasn't released any information on how much it has earned, although it claimed to have earned one Dutch paper around $100,000 last year. Blendle also said the move to expand to the US was part of it search for profitability.
Blendle users get to read stories they purchase ad-free, and the cost per piece averages around 25 cents. The ability to offer stories without ads, but at a low cost, is crucial to attracting younger readers, who are increasingly turning to ad-blocking software. The pain for publishers has only gotten worse in recent years, with major mobile hardware makers like Apple and Samsung allowing ad-blocking to be built right into their mobile browsers.