February 10, 2006
Google or AT&T - Skype or Verizon
The results will be different.
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures outlines the real issues and likely outcomes better than me so I have enclosed a part of his piece. By the way, my read of it further entrenches my belief that EBay is the best of breed internet 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 Company and beyond. They are built to grow through anything I can think of. Enjoy:
Let’s talk about Skype. It’s a fantastic service. It is more efficient than VOIP services that don’t run on P2P networks. And it is ten times easier and better to use than the crappy plain old telephone service (POTS) that still generates most of the revenues for these carriers. Skype tells me if the person I want to talk to is available BEFORE I make the call. And it lets me IM with the person if they are on another call. Why didn’t the carriers invent this service? Because they were getting fat and happy by charging exorbitant fees for bad services.
If the government lets the carriers get away with this greedy move, I will discontinue Internet service from any carrier who seeks to get paid by the value added services. And I will encourage everyone else I know to do the same.
Surely there is some new carrier eager for AT&T’s customers who will align themselves with these value added services. I’d rather buy my Internet access from a company who understands how valuable Google, Bit Torrent, and Skype is to me and how much of a commodity their Internet access is.
Frankly I don’t really care what the government concludes on this issue. Because I am confident that the market will speak. The web services companies aren’t going to stand for a tax without putting up a big fight. And they have way more customer loyalty than the carriers. Who has a better brand – Google or AT&T? Skype or Verizon?
What the carriers need to do is develop better and more reliable services. EVDO is a good example of something they’ve done right. Give us more bandwidth in more places with more price/value options. Why don’t we have a 12mb down/3mb up Internet service in NYC? Apparently they have it in France. Why doesn’t Verizon spend money on developing that service? I’d glady pay more for a true high bandwidth service. That’s how the carriers should be looking at things. But instead they are trying to take money from the wrong side of the table. And it’s not going to work.