Could municipal copper be the future?
There has been much discussion lately, most of it negativeÂ (you can read more comments on Technorati), about the comeback of boo.com and once again, I find myself on the opposite side of the shared wisdom. Before I go into reasons as to why I think a comeback by Boo.com (a boo.comeback?) makes sense, let me first go into my unique qualifications to make such an assessment: I happen to have worked at Boo.com in the past and I was the insider who exposed some of the challenges the company had faced. I spent a fair amount of my time, in 2000 and 2001, talking at conferences about the lessons learned from this failure and I think that some of those are now fixed. Looking Back In the ensuing 6 years, I’ve been going over and over what went wrong and discovered more lessons along the way: the market conditions were wrong, we were young and arrogant, and, for the most part, we didn’t really understand the magnitude of what we were trying to accomplish: to remind people, our goal was to launch a website in 16 countries (15 EU countries + the US) on day one, localizing our site for…Read More
Having looked at how the modular by design approach impacted broadcast television, let’s now look at its impact on cable TV. The FCC and the cable TV industry recently came head to head when it comes to a la carte pricing . The concept of a la carte pricing is that consumers would be able to buy any TV channel in a model instead of being forced into buying a bundle of shows as part of the standard offering. The cable industry contends that a la carte pricing is bad because it will wreak havoc with the economic model of the cable business. It’s true that it will do so as large media companies like Viacom and Walt Disney currently force cable operators to broadcast their less popular channels in exchange for the rights to broadcast their top properties, like MTV or ESPN and will no longer be able to do so if a la carte becomes a reality. They will also have a harder time selling an audience package to their advertisers as there will no longer be any guarantee that buying an ad in a package that reaches MTV and Spike will ensure the same kinds of hits.…Read More
News.com reports that Bill Gates believes the promises of the dotcom era will be fulfilled. I tend to agree with the concept on its face. Witness, for example, the recent development in the online grocery business. While WebVan blew up in a multi-billion-dollar disaster, the market is now growing, with traditional grocery chains adding this new feature to their product offering. In New York, it is not uncommon to see FreshDirect trucks make delivery to many buildings. Kozmo, another dotcom disaster, was set-up to rent videos and DVDs. While they did not survive the crash, Netflix did and now has a thriving business doing roughly the same thing. Broadband offerings were much vaunted in the late 90s but little came of them. Now, however, with the rise in broadband connections (either through DSL or cable), we are starting to see some basic services offering things like online broadcast (Real Networks has over one million customers, and is sitting in a niche currently eyed by AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo) and movie downloads cropping up. The key is in the incremental approach taken to developing those services. The first thing is that the larger companies largely sat the initial rush out and…Read More
There’s been much discussion over the past year related to the viability of new wireless operators trying to implement national networks for Wi-Fi. The issue is one of cost and return on investment. As we learned during the dotcom boom, it is easy to build new infrastructures but it is much harder to build new infrastructures that are not only scalable but also profitable. With the introduction of free Wi-Fi to existing broadband customers, Verizon is changing the model again. On one side, you have smaller operators like Boingo that are trying to make a go of it without anything else. My bet is that the future of such operators lies in being acquired, either by a telephone company (in that particular case, I would bet on Sprint acquiring them since Boingo already has a relationship with their PCS division). On another side are existing large mobile operators like T-mobile who are trying to create a bundle that includes mobile phone service and data service all in one package. Those will probably continue to move successfully but will be forced to lower prices as time goes on. Now, with the Verizon offer, I expect to see not only DSL operators…Read More
Mac-a-ronies does a good roundup on the digital divide questions raised by the recent Pew Internet Trust study. I suspect those of us who have been online for a long time can hardly fathom why people would get online and then eventually leave. After all, what’s not to love about the Internet? I could go on an rehash the popular arguments as to why being online is important but somehow, I suspect that I don’t need to do this as people reading this site are obviously not part of the online dropout crowd (if you are, then could you please explain to me why you came back?) Based on my own informal study (meaning, I talked to 1-2 people about this), here are some counter-arguments you can make to people who poo-poo the value of being on the Internet: Untrustworthy Many people still feel that the Internet cannot be trusted. This is somehow due to the fact that many opinions are available on the Internet, some coming from large corporations, others coming from individuals. With each opinion comes an agenda (my own being how do we keep increasing the spread of the Internet so I can keep getting cool jobs…Read More
Last week, I was in France for a short vacation. During that time, I got a chance to talk to people locally and get a better idea as to what was going on within the Internet market in France. Here are a few observations based on my understanding of what is going on. Strong Growth France had been a leader in terms of establishing an information society but was starting to get trapped by its legacy Minitel tool. The Minitel was introduced in France in the late 70s as essentially a precursor to the web. The service allowed users to read online versions of magazines and newspapers, shop in online catalogs, chat, play games, and have access to every government office. In the early 80s, Minitel penetration became so high that the government-owned phone company decided to drop printing of phone books and move that service to the Minitel. Fast forward to the late 90s. France is still on the Minitel and the Internet has gotten wide acceptance in the United States. At that point, Internet penetration in France is sluggish as few people see any value in it. As a result, the French government issued an ambitious plan to…Read More
Last week, for the second week in a row, IIS administrators have had to face Code Red. More than a simple virus, Code Red could represent a new acceleration in the online virus war and shows that we may not be ready, as an industry, for the era of web services. A Rapid Epidemic Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s take a quick look at how Code Red spread. First of all, there was a simple buffer overflow problem in Microsoft Index Server, for which the company produced a patch. A month later, Code Red starting showing up. However, its rate of growth was relatively slow at the beginning. The true epidemic did not start until July 19th, when Code Red exploded onto the scene, increasing the number of infected servers from just around 300 at 00:15am to 2994 by 7:30am, over 30,000 by 14:40pm and over 300,000 in the 6 hours after that. In other words, in less than a day, Code Red went from a relatively small annoyance to a full blown attack on the net infrastructure. Had no one rung the bell on it, it would have taken only a couple of days for it to…Read More