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The Roundup June 17

Broadband just keeps on bulldozing.

Broadband adoption by U.S. adults increased to 63 percent in April, up 8 percent from a year earlier, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. . . .

A rise in the cost of high-speed connections, at a time when many people are struggling financially, doesn’t appear to have curtailed the growth in adoption. The average monthly bill for basic broadband service was $37.10 in April, up from $32.80 a year earlier, according to the survey.

(“Broadband adoption soars despite economic slump,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 17) 63% is actually pretty pathetically low in comparison with every other first-world country. It’s not consumer adoption that’s the issue, it’s the supply side that’s failing us. If providers could make broadband available in every area at comparable prices to major urban centers, that number would be 90% or greater. And on the supply side, the recession is affecting the growth of broadband . . . severely. The biggest problem on the supply side is lack of competition. It’s the one free market in the U.S. where competition can only be increased through government intervention and “taking.” That’s why countries like Japan and Korea have near 100% availability of broadband and we don’t.


Pack up YourSpace and get out!

MySpace, the social networking site owned by News Corporation, the media conglomerate controlled by Mr. Murdoch, said it was laying off roughly 400 employees, or nearly 30 percent of its staff. After the layoffs, MySpace will have about 1,000 workers.

The company said the layoffs were an attempt to return to a “start-up culture.”

(“MySpace Set to Lay Off 400 Workers,” New York Times, June 17) Okay, let me get this straight. Fox Interactive is trying to get MySpace back to a “startup culture” by a) firing the person who started the business up in the first place, b) hiring a big-time, corporate executive to run the show, and c) putting the fear of layoffs into every employee’s quaking heart. Which startup culture are they thinking about exactly?


This is “totally revolutionizing the Web browser”?

Opera Software’s new technology is available as part of a beta for its browser, Opera 10. The feature, called Opera Unite, enables users to push content and establish communications without the need for third-party companies, such as Facebook, AOL or Flickr.

Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner called it a giant leap in the Internet, dubbing it Web 5.0. . . .

Opera Unite is available now with six free applications built by Opera. They include applications for photo sharing, media streaming, chatting, file sharing and a bulletin board.

(“Opera lets browser be used as a server,” San Francisco Chronicle, June 17) Last week, Opera announced that they were going to totally revolutionize the Web browser. Since everyone says that twice per year, the announcement was met with tepid yawns. So now, in another testament to PR overreach, we have Opera Unite unveiled as Web 5.0 (skipping, if you missed it, Web 3.0 and 4.0). But is it really? The browser isn’t really going to do anything that Web 2.0 doesn’t already do: share photos, blogs, tweets, videos, and so on. The only difference is that Unite does it from your local computer, rather than requiring an upload. But it’s not just the sharing of photos and tweets that make folks like Twitter and Flickr and Facebook and YouTube popular, it’s that they’ve become standards. They are where the people are at. Why is Microsoft downgrading Soapbox? Because it just can’t compete with YouTube in generating a community. Consider the consequences of this: not only is Opera taking on all the other browsers, it’s taking on every single major company in the Web 2.0 space. They’re taking on Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Twitter, and practically everyone else on the planet, including even the online hair-loss lifestyle communities. It may not be Web 5.0, but it’s a pretty ambitious target on the moon to aim at.

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