‘Adventure capitalist’ Esther Dyson has predicted that we should expect more paid-for content online this year.
Well, er, yes. Given that only the top 10 most popular sites in any market you care to name get about 80% of the ad revenue, that means no more free lunch for users of the other 90% of sites.
The alternative is closure or a slash in costs for those advertising-based sites. Hell, even Yahoo! is madly running around looking for alternative business models, like – bizarrely – consultancy.
She also said online marketing would hold its own in a results-obsessed recession. Sure, but this would be happier news if the whole marketing industry hadn’t already been cut in half and clients weren’t so cowardly – a point almost made by i-level’s Charlie Dobres. So take that one with a grain of salt.
Simon Murdoch of Episode 1 Partners said VCs would shrink back to pre-1997 levels and that it’s all a waiting game now until things pick up. Julia Meyer of Ariadne Capital echoed this sentiment. Of course, this is hardly a prediction, more a reasoned assessment.
What few VCs will countenance is the idea, put about by a handful of industry people, that we may be heading for another bubble in less than 18 months’ time.
While it seems laughable to even consider such a thing, it’s worth remembering that the Internet business has been through a cycle of several mini bubbles since 1995.
The difference is that today we have broadband and 2.5G mobile phones added to the mix. Prior to 2000, the price of oil was cheap – a time we have reached once again following the events of 11 September. Well, perhaps it’s worth keeping just half an eye on that little prediction.
Also in NMA, Bertelsmann’s Dr Klaus Eirhoff pointed to the growth of subscription-based file sharing services like Napster and multi-channel retailing. Again, good assessment but not a prediction.
Dr Ian Kearns of the IPPR said government will lead the drive towards a more secure online (for who, them or us?) and more content services.
He neglected to mention that with an ailing transport infrastructure, an NHS on the verge of collapse, and costly foreign wars, it seems doubtful they will be subsidising the broadband roll-out.
So much for living in glass houses. As for chucking a few stones myself, alas there isn’t the space this week.
Suffice it to say I’ll be outlining why 3G will come to mean gambling, gaming and girls, and why the BBC should launch its own instant messaging software in future, prescient, columns.