Portals for all platforms

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Portals for all platforms

“Portals owned by broadband access networks now have a head start.

But in the longer term, free competition will prevail.”

The McKinsey Quarterly, 2002 Number 1

Policy relevance:

As Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen recently stated the EU should promote broadband internet,EU Actorsmight be interested in what developments in the market are taking place in this field.

Main conclusions:

  • Three broadband platforms (PCs interactive TVs and mobile devices) are poised to grow rapidly in Europe over the next decade;
  • There are two trends shaping the emerging broadband landscape, convergence and a shift in competitive advantage among competing portals;
  • To thrive, portals will eventually need to serve end users across the full range of broadband platsforms;
  • The current Internet landscape limits competition among portals within and between platforms, making a closed-portal strategy worthwhile, but this will become unworkable once platforms converge and consumers can switch platforms within and between platforms;
  • To break even, broadband portals need a heavy investment, great content, and a lot of users, who may not be prepared to pay for content. Companies that already possess each requirement still have the strongest position to dominate their “native platform”;
  • Operator-owned portals will have to move quickly to build the reach, the scale, the skills, and the relationships needed to survive more open competition. One option is to acquire other mobile portals, another is to share content, partnerships and customer bases;
  • All contenders will need partners of some kind, since no single company will be able to master all technical platforms and also provide quality content;
  • Factors that are promoting convergence among platforms are a large potential market (albeit nobody yet knows what the “killer” service will be), large synergies among platforms and manageable technical obstacles.
  • Generally, three levels of convergence are recognised: broadband platforms converge only from the consumer’s perspective; infrastructure convergence, and convergence of user’s experience and the portal architecture, regardless of the access device or platform.

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