For The Internet To Work, Everyone Has To Change

from the yeah,-nice-try dept

The thought process of the uncreative business people gets scary sometimes. In today’s Guardian there’s a column by the former managing director of Telewest’s broadband content group explaining why he quit. He calls online users “cookie monsters” who simply want all their content for free (how dare they?!?!?). He goes on to talk about how evil we all are for wanting our free content. The crux of his argument seems to be that in order for him to have made money at Telewest, instead of coming up with a real business model, he was hoping that everyone else in the world would change how they agree to use the web. Any business model that is based on the idea that everyone needs to change how they’re doing something (especially when they’re quite happy doing what they’re doing) seems like a particularly pointless business plan. He also seems to miss out on the point that people are paying for content in what they pay their ISPs. People pay for broadband connections because of what’s online. Trying to then charge extra for every bit of content that passes through the connection is double billing, and most people intuitively understand this. It’s just the uncreative business people who don’t seem to understand the basic economics of how the internet works.

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Comments on “For The Internet To Work, Everyone Has To Change”

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xdroop (user link) says:


But it’s not double-billing. If any of the money collected for the high speed connection went towards paying for content generation, your argument would pass the laugh test. It doesn’t.
Look at it this way: is it outrageous to expect people to pay for gas, when they’ve already paid for their car? Should fuel providers come up with more innovative ways to stay in business?

The two things(bandwidth and content, or cars and gas) are not directly connected. In most cases, they are not even provided by the same company.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Wrong.

Ah, but there are a few big and important differences between your car/gas example and the internet. People don’t buy a car to get gas, they buy a car to get places. People do get broadband to get information. It’s the end result of what they’re paying for. In the case of the car, the end result is to get places and there are different ingredients that are paid for to get places: the car, the gas, insurance, etc. In the case of the internet, the end result is to get information and there are different things people pay for to get to that end result: the computer, the connection, the software (sometimes)… but the information itself is the end product, and what drives the sales of those other things.

The fact that the content providers don’t make money from connection fees is their own fault. Just because they haven’t come up with the proper business model to get some of the connection/ISP money doesn’t mean it isn’t double billing… it just means the content companies haven’t realized that they’re the attraction that is making the ISP’s money.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wrong.

I’m not saying you never have to pay for content, I’m just saying there are reasons people don’t expect to pay for content online, and that’s not going to change.

The basic economics of online content still stand: the marginal cost to display another page is minimal (approaching zero), such that the cost should approach zero as well, unless that information is somehow unique in a way that is not easily copied (such as timely financial news).

The content online is a commodity which should be used as a way to draw people into paying for something else… one of those “something elses” should be the connection fee.

lorenzo says:

Re: Re: Re:2 if the advertising model were working ...

you wouldn t be fighting about free content and double billing. Advertsing works well for free television because there s a limited content to be bought by ads, it doesn t work well for the Internet, notwithsatnding marginal costs approaching zero, because the web is swamped by content and ads can t pay any fixed cost to corporations, no matter how little

But 2 things to consider:
first – most of the info put on the web is part of a pay for visibility swap people are willing to afford, in a similar way corporations pay for visibility buyng ad space so … it isn t free as much as free TV is

second – the web is extremely young and is coming up with new ways of handling it, not necessarily the ones big media wants to see.

Big media should consider this thing, they are in a clear channel conflict because their model doesn t work for the web. And making the WWW a VPN doesn t sove the conflict, it s just a retreat

Steve says:

Problem is the web isn't only commercial

Apparently I’ve become one of those grizzly old timers…

We were spending money to go online long before the web became all about big business and making money. Everybody forgets the community aspect of the web, and the bloggin phenomena is a great example. A certain portion of the web has nothing to do with making money.

They think the net is an anarchistic space and that anything intended to commercialise it is to be fiercely resisted – even if that thing is creative, innovative and inventive.

Guess what Mr.Docherty? The net is an anarchistic space, and was so long before it became officially commercialized in 1995. Commercial interests are still the newcomers and it’s up to them to fit in with the technology and more importantly, the culture of the users, not the other way around. If business can’t figure out how to make money from the web then they don’t have to be there. And people will gribe about popups and try to circumvent them–guess what–that’s just too bad. We ignore commercial on TV or skip over them, go to the bathroom or whatever. Deal with it. There are plenty of business models out there that do work so rather than cry like a little child about it not being fair, either figure it out or find another line of work.

Oh and guess what Mr. Docherty? It is exactly the villainous Cookie Monster attitude that allowed me to read your article and allowed you a forum to express your view. Do you think I would have paid a nickel to hear what some whiny failure executive had to say about something? Of course not, but because it was free, I read it.

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