Here in Tucson, Arizona, USA, our local public radio station KUAZ-FM carries “Real Computing with John C. Dvorak” every Saturday morning from 5:00 – 6:00 A.M. No, I don’t sit bleary-eyed, listening to Dvorak’s pithy words of wisdom. Instead, I use my trusty Radio Shack #61-1060 Digital Timer (approximately $30 US, and well worth it!) to switch on my stereo system and tape the program automatically for listening at a more civilized hour.
A few weeks ago the program began with:
As the conversation progressed, I became increasingly impressed with Tchong’s ability to focus on evolving Internet trends and communicate them clearly. I spent an informative evening visiting his Web site, http://www.iconocast.com
, and registered for the ICONOCAST newsletter via e-mail.
I’m not normally much of a chart-guy, but the Nethercast multi-chart, which is a PDF-download from the ICONOCAST home page, is a comprehensive tour-de-force of descriptive stats in a visual format. Here is a section from a recent Nethercast.
Michael Tchong agreed to participate in a brief e-mail interview for the
readers of My Mac. I based my questions on some his responses to John Dvorak. You can read the entire transcript of the program, which is number 11, on the Real Computing Web page: http://www.realcomputing.com
John: What is your primary purpose, Michael, with the ICONOCAST Newsletter and Web site, and who are your principal readers?
Michael: My goal is to provide a fact-based analysis of the rapidly moving field of Internet marketing for people who want to use the Net for that purpose. Major editorial topics covered are Internet advertising and e-commerce. Because ICONOCAST is laced with data, it appeals to the Internet research community as well.
John: At what point will the Web become more commercial than free, and how will it affect the many consumers who are not currently using the Net for much in the way of personal commerce?
Michael: It’s about 33 percent commercial now (or about 500,000 sites which have a profit or loss), according to ActivMedia, and probably will remain so for the foreseeable future. But the top sites are all commercially driven, so most users are already familiar with a commercial Net.
John: Do you predict that “pay as you go” will dominate, over more
conventional methods of subscribing for information and downstream technology?
Michael: I believe that most sites will remain free. The traffic penalty is
just too much for most publishers. It has taken the Wall Street Journal more than a year to get 150,000 paying subscribers, one-fourth of their original traffic, and they have plenty of clout.
John: Ultimately, will the most successful commercial sites be those with
direct sales, or those with huge numbers of tiny incremental purchases?
Michael: Both can exist quite peacefully as they do now in the real world. But most sites will feature some form of e-commerce, even if it’s only one of those store-within-a-banner Java ads.
John: On John Dvorak’s show, you stated that: “The habit is to get stuff for free, and we need to break that habit. So that means that in concert with a whole bunch of other publishers, if we do that together, then that will happen.” Do you see the entire Web gradually migrating to an e-commerce model?
Michael: What I hope for and what’s reality are two different things. The Wall Street Journal example illustrates that well. A few sites are selling extra features, such as customized sports scores at a premium. As more sites begin offering these type of paid-for options, I expect to see more users begin to accept the fact that the best data is not necessarily free. And that’s when you will see a gradual shift to the e-commerce model.
John: What are your current and future projected sources of revenue and support for ICONOCAST? Is this your primary business, Michael? What other projects do you have in the pipeline?
Michael: ICONOCAST is, not surprisingly, ad-supported. Advertising is slowly ramping up and I fully expect it to reach 50 percent of revenues. Most of ICONOCAST’s current income is from consulting, which focuses on marketing and market research. Besides the Nethercast report you mentioned earlier, ICONOCAST has made available a “Music on the Net” report in PDF (Adobe Acrobat Portable Document) format, which is available from the site. This report was written for Liquid Audio, the leading music e-commerce system. “A Perspective on Java Ads” will be available the week of Internet World. And two more are due in early February: “An Interface to Information,” which delves into the black magic of search-engine interface design and “A Perspective on Interactive Promotions,” which covers dynamic couponing on the Web.
John: Is the Mac currently part of your operation? What is your professional relationship with the Macintosh community these days?
Michael: I use a PowerBook 3400c/240 for all my daily operations. I still know a fair amount of people in the Macintosh community and I try to get them to move over to the Internet marketing arena whenever I can. I’m dealing with two large Macintosh vendors right now in a consulting capacity.
John: Do you feel there is a chasm between the “onliners” and the rest of the society? At what point will it be considered “normal” for people to utilize computers over a network as part of their daily routine?
Michael: The children of baby boomers, called the “Echo Boom” in research parlance, are destined to be the generation that grows up with the Internet. Expect major societal changes in the next 10 years.
John: Michael, what do you personally do on the Net, for either business or personal use?
Michael: I’ve become a big addict of e-commerce in the past few months, buying CDs, travel and computer products via the Net. Most of my Internet time is, of course, spent responding to e-mail and doing research for articles. Unfortunately, as Xerox estimates, 90 percent of the information in offices has never been near a computer, which makes the finding of contextual data very difficult (it took nearly two hours on the Xerox site to find the tidbit just mentioned).
John: Thank you, Michael Tchong. I look forward to your weekly ICONOCAST newsletter appearing in my e-mail box.
Here is a sample from the ICONOCAST, to give you some idea of range of material Michael covers.
Thanks for reading. See you next month.
John Nemerovski (firstname.lastname@example.org)