Forecast: Paid content to reach $36 billion by 2014

It’s hard to imagine it, but iTunes, when it launched, was a
major gamble by Apple. Digital purchases were in their infancy and there was
hardly a guarantee the general public would embrace them.Farmville-cash  

How far we’ve come.

A new survey from GigaOM Pro predicts the online market for
digital goods will grow from $16.7 billion last year to $36 billion by 2014.

Music and video games have led the market so far, via iTunes
and Activision’s cash cow “World of Warcraft.” These days, social network games
(such as FarmVille) are beginning to contribute notably to the bottom line as
well, but Paul Zagaeski, author of the report, says the market is just getting
started – and is primed for significant growth.

“Payment models will continue to evolve and even established
players in digital goods will need to continue adapt,” he says. “Early success
stories … are only the beginning, as new, socially-enabled digital markets
continue to grow in importance.”

The big money potential continues to underscore why Apple
and the network content providers haven’t yet reached a deal for programming on
the iPad. The music industry isn’t completely dependent on Apple, but it’s
close. Video programmers want to have some leverage if that becomes the case
for that industry as well.