If an external party can control when or how you can use a device or decide on what you can or cannot see, or select what programs you can install on it, do you still own it?
Reports that AT&T is planning on introducing a pre-paid card for online content show some potential new developments in the online space. If we were to follow the model further, we could see something new developing, with companies offering a basket of content for a fixed price. For example, imagine you would like to get a subscription to the Wall Street Journal online, access to some downloadable music, and latest sports stats. What if you could subscribe to a single service that would allow you to pay for all of those in one shot (and maybe receive a rebate as a result)? This is not dissimilar to the model currently used by cable television. In the United States, cable television has what is called a tiered structure. That means that channels are grouped in packages that are then sold as a whole. The most basic service includes the regular “free” networks (for people who have low or no reception), the next package above that generally offers an extended set that includes CNN, ESPN and a bunch of other channels. Then, on the third tier, you can buy more expensive channels like HBO or Showtime, which are not supported by advertising.…Read More
For the past week, I’ve been posting a fair amount about the raging cow and about establishing trust in a market where marketers are trying to get in side by side with other bloggers. Chris Pirillo makes some good points about the raging cow campaign: Is it so bad if they are trying to engage us in a conversation? If markets are conversations, as a popular book says, is Dr. Pepper doing the right thing? It’s a tough question to answer. After all, they are trying to do what we told them they should do. On a related matter, the blog world is now abuzz with a description of the Internet as an agreement. While the document provides an interesting set of concepts that are sound from a purely technical standpoint (yes, the underlying standards of the Internet are based on an agreement), it does not cover the variety of choices of what is on the Internet. If the goal is to say “hey, the Internet is just an agreement to tie networks together” then World of Ends succeeds. But the contention that this makes a difference does not really matter much in today’s world. What world of ends does…Read More
There’s an interesting Michael Wolff piece in New York about the declining value of content. (Disclaimer: I used to work for Michael in the early 90s) While I generally agree with the concept that content is becoming more widespread and that there is an increase in the amount of content being produced, I fundamentally disagree with his assumption that people do not pay for content. If that were truly the case, where would box-office revenues go? What about video and DVD rentals? His pointing out the fact that changes in behavior show that most people will steal music and movie content on the Internet is largely due to the fact that there are no clear alternatives. Attempts to offer a crippled service like the new Napster or Pressplay are not enough (After all, if I pay for a service, why does the stuff I downloaded expire). Give us an all you can eat legal buffet at a price point that does not gouge us and we will come. Or start paying the artists and your case will be stronger when you tell us that we are starving them. Right now, many people pay for cable TV. Basic price gives you…Read More
According to an article in the Washington Post, AOL is loosing market share to Road-Runner. The interesting thing is that both companies are owned by AOL-Time-Warner but are not playing together. This represents a huge problem for the company as it is the most visible area of potential synergy between AOL and Time-Warner. Here’s a crazy thought, why doesn’t the company break it all down into an access division (probably going to Road-Runner) and a content division (probably going to AOL). Using charge-backs, they would trade money back and forth and Road-Runner could keep focusing on access (inheriting a lower speed dial-up system in the process) and focus on converting dial-up users to broadband, while AOL would focus on developing content and tools (the AOL software) that would run on both system. Obviously Road-Runner has figured out how to sell access and AOL is good at building software that is easy to use for the average computer user. Let AOL get rid of the access layer (the client already does TCP/IP) and focus on improvements to IM, mail, and content and let Road-Runner focus on selling access and you have a pretty powerful combo.Read More
Today, Earthweb and Internet.com announced that Internet.com was acquiring all of Earthweb’s content properties. For me, it’s an interesting announcement because I was involved in the building of both properties. When I left Internet.com in 1996 and went to Earthweb, I was in charge of building Earthweb’s properties into something competitive with Internet.com. At the time, there were already a few players in the news market and I decided that Earthweb’s best positioning was to stay focused on the developer community instead of trying to do just Internet related stuff. Many people (including a lot of people on this list) have asked me what I thought of this announcement. So here it is. Two roads converge In a way, today’s announcement was one that didn’t surprise me much. Over the years, I’ve stayed in touch with people at both companies and, as time went on, I came to realize that both properties should be integrated. Before Earthweb’s IPO, such discussions were held both at Earthweb and at Internet.com and there seems to seem some differing views on the subject. However, I had always been nagged by the feeling that the two properties (the developer.com network and the internet.com network) would…Read More
I was recently speaking at a conference called Escandinavia 2000, which covered the state of the Internet in Scandinavia. During that conference, I had a chance to speak to a number of people about the state of wireless in the Scandinavian countries. Here’s what I’ve learned and how it can help those of you who are working in the wireless space in the United States. The Hybrid World Lives! Many of you may remember the February 10th issue about Hybrid Computing. While talking with Birger Steen, CEO of Scandinavia Online, I discovered that the concept is not that far off the market. It is his contention that WAP-enabled phones are largely a pain in the back when it comes to interface. Having to key in every letter on the small phone keyboard is far from the easiest thing in the world. As a result, Scandinavia Online has developed a set of services that allows users of their portal jump on their site and configure their WAP view on the web. From his point of view, this is the best service he can offer now to wireless users. The point was reiterated by a few people around the conference that told…Read More