It struck me that there's one more big risk that MS is taking with .NET. Will that consumers really pay $25-$50 a year? If it works, then someone will finally crack the nut of getting people to pay for things on the Internet. But Microsoft is taking a huge (and uncustomary) risk in trying to be the first to make it work. As a developer/user, I feel they're already making mistake in charging developers for access to My Services. How will ordinary consumers feel?

Obvious counter-strategy: build a totally free alternative service. Plan to give it away the first few years, then either start charging (the Salon model) or monetize the service some other way (the MSIE model). This strategy is high risk, and currently unfashionable. But companies like IBM, Sun, and AOL could afford to do it.

The funny thing is I like the idea of MS charging for My Services. It puts the expectations in the right place; my service belongs to me, I pay for it. I hate the way most "free" services take their toll in turning my data into a marketing channel. MS has promised not to do this. If someone follows with a free version, they should give the same protection to consumers. Maybe this is a pipe dream.

  2001-10-24 07:00 Z