I went to see Steve Case give an interview at the Computer History Museum tonight. It was actually kinda boring, but some points were made. Here are some notes from me, heavily editorialized by me, only vaguely based on what they were talking about on stage.
Steve made a point about the early online services market being heavily segmented based on the kind of device that was being used to access the network. Prodigy was aimed at IBM PC users and QLink was aimed at Commodore users. There’s a big difference between the person who pays $2000 for a PC and one who pays $200 for a C64, and naturally the online market was segmented based on those big differences. Interesting. In general we think of all service as pretty much the same these days. There’s broadband and dialup, but we don’t think of a particular provider as “a Windows service” or a “Linux service”. They all go out to the Internet on the back end, so who really cares? Well, if we move toward computers embedded in the world around us - our phones, our entertainment systems, our cars, etc. - the access devices does become a significant predictor of what might be interesting. I wonder if we’ll see a proliferation of network providers as the Lexus Network Service Provider attempts to segment itself from the Hyundai provider.
Mentioned that he personally worked out the deal with Apple that got setup for AppleLink (or one of the services at least, I can’t remember which). It was the first and last time Apple ever licensed it’s logo to a third party. He did mention that Apple had such a strong tradition of charging for software that a free bundle with the Apple logo would cause quite a stir.
At the end, he was commenting on communication and collaboration within non-profit organizations and the medical field. This is a hot topic and seemingly getting hotter. He was interested in how to raise the effectiveness of the organizations without just throwing money from a profitable area into a lossy area. Community building and collaboration seemed to be his concentrations, as they were in building AOL. No concrete info on what kinds of techniques for building cooperation he saw really making a difference.
When asked about weblogs he said he loves them. The great thing about weblogs is that anyone can be a publisher. The bad thing is that most people make bad publishers. There will still be value in brand and trust for a long time because of this. People want a source they can turn to for authority, especially within journalism and the news.
Niall posted a few pics from the event already. Elle and I met up with Niall and a few other people and headed out afterward. The conversation after the event and at dinner was great, some fantastic people out here in the Bay Area. We had to cut it short however. Because, gasp, everyone had to go to work the next day. That’s been a rare consideration for quite a while. For a long time it seemed like any gathering of 4 or more people would tend to see half of them unemployed or self-employed, and therefor blissfully unaware of time. Could it be that the next rise is happening? Might be. I wonder if restaurants will cut back their hours now that people are forced to get back on human schedules.