Comcast: Smart or Stupid, the debate continues

In response to my previous post on Comcast’s desire to become a web powerhouse, David Isenberg, the man who coined The Stupid Network, succinctly points out that the cable giant is trying to enhance the value of its cable plant, and trying to build a smart pipe, a losing proposition in his opinion.

It is hard to argue against his logic, but it is also hard to argue against the reasons why Comcast is trying to do what it is trying to do — offer web services and enhance its position as one of the top Internet destinations in the US. Of course, Comcast’s offer is just an option to what is already out there – Yahoo Mail, You Tube or Netvibes. Whether they are eventually successful, or not, remains to be seen.

“Meanwhile, Om, how about a bit more critical thinking? You can do it, I know you can. Don’t go all White-House-Press-Corps on us,” says Isenberg. Ouch!

I am taking a more pragmatic ‘wait-and-see’ approach to Comcast’s plans. Purely, because the product isn’t out as yet and it is the proverbial first pitch of the first inning from the cable companies’ when it comes to their web strategies.

I clearly don’t have the intellectual heft to argue with Isenberg, who is almost always right. That said, the recent past is why I don’t necessarily dismiss what Comcast is trying to do.

They were reluctant entrants when it came to the broadband access business, but once they realized that there was money to be made from it, they were all over it. Were they slow to get into the business? Of course they were, but they did get there.

CableCos were equally slow in offering voice, but once the business made sense (aka became critical and affordable), they are all over it. It is the same with web-services. Are they late to the party? 100% – but still, one has to wait and see what unfolds.

“If I were a Comcast shareholder, I’d sell on this news,” writes Isenberg. I think if I am a shareholder, then I’d sell on the news that Comcast isn’t trying to do what it it trying to do – offer web services, and trying to make some advertising dollars off its traffic.

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