Agreed on a tip jar being not a great metaphor for paying for things online in general. I’m sort of to blame for conflating the two while trying to make a broader point about all the rails not (yet) being in place for seamless online payments (“tips” or otherwise) to truly work.
We keep inching closer with things like iTunes/Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Stripe, Patreon, Gumroad, Square Cash, etc. But we’re clearly not there yet. I just wonder if it’s going to take one online payment solution to rise into a behemoth to make the masses comfortable paying for digital content. Again, the process has to be as seamless as possible and right now it’s not.
The closest we have is probably iTunes/Apple Pay, where you can click on button to pay for a subscription to The New York Times (on your iOS device, of course). Having to constantly fill in your credit card number, billing address, etc, just isn’t going to cut it for most people. Especially on mobile devices. I know the browsers are trying to aleviate some of this with auto-fill, but it feels hack-y at best.
And, of course, not everyone is going to want to give Apple a big cut. So… we’ll see.