You CAN stream old TV legally but it will cost you.
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
According to recent research, the digital divide may include people who are not interested in getting online. The implication of this are enormous, impacting areas like E-government initiative. The idea of providing more services online allows corporations and government to reduce costs by encouraging self service. However, if a number of people decide that there is no value in being online, how does one offer them service? Would prodding, in the case of corporations through increased fees, work? And how would governments, which are supposed to offer services for free (well, almost, since those services are paid for by tax dollars), reduce costs. These are issues that need closer attention and I believe there is a need to better understand why people drop out. According to the wired article, some of the reasons have to do with complexities related to going online. In order to resolve those issues, the industry needs to play closer attention to user experience and start figuring out how to make things easier. Return on investments in technology will increase if more people use a system. More people will use a system if it’s easier to use. However, few companies pay close attention to those kinds…Read More
I just received a call on my cell phone from T-mobile and was extremely impressed with their customer service. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that the level of service has degraded (meaning that my signal is not as clear as it used to be). I’ve never complained about this to them but they called in to check how happy I was with the service. Once they identified themselves and made sure that I was the person holding the account, their first question was “how happy are you with the service?” I told them that I thought the quality of service had degraded over the last few weeks (being a long-time mobile phone user, I’ve resolved myself to the fact that service degrades over time as more people join a particular provider. As a result of that low level of expectation, I had assumed that filing a complaint would not accomplish anything.) However, the minute I mentioned that fact to them, they started asking more questions: Where did this happen? How often? Once they got all the details, the T-mobile representative told me that they were crediting my account for twenty five dollars to make up for the trouble.…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
Today, Ebay announced that it will acquire Paypal for $1.5 billion in stock. The acquisition makes sense as it merges two successful Internet businesses and turns the online auctioneer into an end to end shop for online transaction. Sizing up the businesses Ebay is primarily in the auction business. Everyday, millions of people buy and sell products through the service. Ebay does not hold any of the inventory and focuses primarily on providing a marketplace for exchange. In parallel, Paypal provides a service that allows people to send money electronically by tying credit card numbers to email addresses. 60% of Paypal’s business comes from people who are using Ebay for auction and Ebay tried to compete with Paypal through its own service called Billpoint. The only problem was that Billpoint never received the kind of support Paypal enjoyed. While other offerings (Yahoo PayDirect, Citibank’s C2It, Western Union’s MoneyZap) tried to go after the same market, Paypal established an early lead and hung on to it. Furthermore, Paypal has worked hard to work with multiple credit card providers, and has established signification relationships with companies like UPS to create a system that allows for end to end processing of transaction. Opportunities…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