Customer-Owned Networks

from the indeed,-indeed dept

A great article by Clay Shirky comparing the current telecom industry’s efforts to offer additional services to FedEx’s attempt in the 80s to offer a fax service called “zapmail”. What FedEx didn’t understand was that faxing was a product, and not a service. Most people realized this and simply went out and bought a fax machine, rather than paying FedEx to fax for them. The customers were the company’s own competitors, and they were the ones who built and owned the “fax network”. FedEx thought they needed to spend millions of dollars to build out their own fax network, when end-users did it themselves. Fast forward to today, and you see the telephone companies making the same mistake in misunderstanding what will happen with both WiFi and VoIP. Shirky makes the point that if the residual value of the network is captured by the user, then they should also be the builder of the network. Definitely worth reading.

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