We interviewed Lance Willett yesterday, one of three Theme Wranglers at Automattic. During the interview he shared that along with the initial release of paid themes from WooThemes and Theme Foundry, Automattic itself plans to release paid WordPress themes to their WordPress.com community eventually. Well, technically I asked him for the odds that one of the next hundred or so premium themes added to WordPress.com might be from Automattic, and he technically said “The odds are very good.” Technically.
In full he said “The odds are very good. We love launching our own themes. It’s something we’re going to do more, both paid and free.” Automattic has already released over one hundred free themes for WordPress.com users, with versions made available to WordPress.org users as well via the theme directory. Whether Automattic’s paid themes will be available for purchase outside of the WordPress.com ecosystem is yet to be seen. Regarding adding paid themes to WordPress.com, Lance also said:
I think it’s the same thing for the theme authors themselves. One of the pieces to the puzzle for them is saying, is this going to be a big part of their business, do we focus on this, do we release themes that are maybe exclusive to WordPress.com? That opens up a whole new range of possibilities. We could offer, for a certain price level, only so many blogs can install this theme. Or if it’s a high enough price maybe you’re the only person who can install this theme. There are a lot of possibilities.
Lance also pointed out that despite the attention given to paid themes, they aren’t abandoning free themes on WordPress.com. He said that the paid themes could actually help drive free theme development: as revenue from sales goes up, more theme developers can be hired.
If you’d like, and why wouldn’t you, check out the full interview with Willett for this discussion. We get into this stuff around minute twelve.