Why WiFi will kick the…

Why WiFi will kick the telcos’ asses. Clay “former guestblogger” Shirky’s posted a great editorial about what happens to businesses that fail to distinguish a product from a service:

Putting a fax machine in every FedEx office would radically reconfigure the center of their network, thus slashing costs: toner would replace jet fuel, bike messenger’s hourly rates would replace pilot’s salaries, and so on. With a much less expensive network, FedEx could attract customers with a discount on regular delivery rates, but with the dramatically lower costs, profit margins would be huge compared to actually moving packages point to point. Lower prices, higher margins, and to top it all off, the customer would get their documents in 2 hours instead of 24. What’s not to love?

Abject failure was not to love, as it turned out. Two years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, FedEx pulled the plug on ZapMail, allowing it to vanish without a trace. And the story of ZapMail’s collapse holds a crucial lesson for the telephone companies today.

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