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Dateline: 19 January 2000 Early Edition
Read The Previous Edition

Editorial
Surf For Free? I Don't Think So
The NZ Herald has published a story in which it is reported that yet another "Free Internet" service is on the horizon for New Zealanders.

I say "yet another" because this isn't the first such "free Internet" venture to be touted in this neck of the woods -- but is such a business model feasible here?

Maybe it is -- maybe these guys are going to get filthy rich and show us all how visionary and smart they are being -- but I don't think so.

Why not?

Well the only place such services have really taken off is in countries such as the UK where phone users normally pay for their local residential calls by the minute. In such cases the "free Internet" services not only earn their revenues from keeping advertisers' messages in your face but they also get a cut on the per-minute charge that eventually appears on your phone bill.

To try and run such a system in New Zealand means you'd be solely reliant on finding enough advertisers prepared to fork out the equivalent of $0.75-$1 for every hour that every user spent online.

Now, given just how little money is being spent on Net advertising in NZ at the moment, I believe it would require a major miracle before the agencies and big advertisers suddenly decided to open up their wallets to this extent.

And don't forget -- those who are most likely to use such a service are also likely to be those with the least money to spend -- not exactly a good match to an advertiser seeking to earn lots of money by selling their products or services.

Okay, so they'll demand your full life history, shoe-size, star sign, mother's favourite colour and a whole raft of other information so that they can offer advertisers the ability to accurately target their pitch -- but it still isn't going to help much if 95 percent of the audience are too poor or cheap to spend $10-$40 a month to buy regular Net access.

Maybe I shouldn't dismiss the value of beneficiaries, students and the poor as a market -- but I fear that such groups will be disproportionately represented amongst the ranks of those who USE such a system -- and let's face it, these people don't have a lot of discretionary income with which to buy an advertiser's products do they?

Don't get me wrong, a free ISP service will attract a huge number of subscribers -- but of these, only a small number will be "USERS" with much in the way of available income to buy an advertiser's offerings. And you don't have to look very far to see how annoyed most people are already becoming with the way advertising is becoming a growing component of the Internet -- so for too many people I suspect, free Internet will be just too expensive.

So... good luck to the free ISPs, but to those who might be contemplating the formation of such a venture -- don't give up your day job just yet.

About That Billionaire
A transcript of the court proceedings surrounding the granting of name suppression and the waiving of a conviction in the case of the Billionaire drug user has appeared in today's Herald. I'm providing a link for the benefit of those interested.

Russell Says Thanks
The winner of the 1999 Aardvark Netizen of the year award, Russell Brown, has asked me to convey his thanks to all those who voted this illustrious title upon him. He did say however that he won't be including the award in his regular bylines -- too modest by far!

And The Winner Is...
Congratulations to Steve Marshall whose vote in the 1999 Aardvark Awards has won him the Microsoft Intellimouse kindly donated by Microsoft New Zealand.

 


General News & Current Events:
7am.com | NZL News | AUS News | GBR News | World News

TODAY'S KEY NET-NEWS HEADLINES


Load in new window Free ride on the way for Web surfers: with a catch
A new Internet service that will allow users to surf cyberspace free is being launched by an Auckland company, surf4nix.com...
NZ Herald

Load in new window Fraud laws won't work: expert
DRACONIAN laws to protect consumers from fraud will not work in an online economy, an international expert has warned...
AustralianIT

Load in new window Freelink adult virus strikes
BUSINESSES throughout Australia have been bombarded with a Melissa-type computer virus after a major Internet marketing company became infected last week...
AustralianIT

Load in new window Online Security Remains Elusive
If people are going to embrace e-business, then online security must be assured. Experts in the field convene to kick things around, but no assurances are given...
Wired

Load in new window Library of Congress Site Hacked
Computer hackers vandalized one of the government's most popular Internet sites Monday, preventing visitors from searching new legislation being considered by Congress...
Yahoo/AP

Load in new window Ask Jeeves grapples with question of sex
The search query Web site built around the mascot of an avuncular, tuxedoed butler named Jeeves may be on the verge of loosening its straight-laced image with a deeper foray into the world of online sex...
CNet

Load in new window BellSouth To Launch Voice Portal
Phones can be used as a means to provide callers with access to info repositories in much the same way Web portals act as info hubs for Net users...
TechWeb

Load in new window Turkey to Advertise Arms Tenders on the 'Net
Turkey's armed forces, second biggest in NATO and one of the alliance's biggest arms purchasers, plan a step into cyberspace to publicize their weapons tenders...
Yahoo/Reuters

Load in new window Supreme Court Sides with NSI
Network Solutions' domain-registration fees are deemed perfectly legal in a ruling that effectively dismisses a closely watched lawsuit...
Wired

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