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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Be a Destination, Not a Gateway

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, February 28, 2008
9:41 am

Well, the cat is out of the bag. I can now blog about the major initiative that has been monopolizing my time for the past six months.

This morning, Slashdot picked up the post by BobB-nw: “Telecommunication companies need to go beyond just providing bandwidth and look into acquiring Internet destination sites that are heavily trafficked, says Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy. “I have explained to every telco that either you become a destination site, or the destination site will become a telco,” McNealy said at a news conference at Sun Microsystems’ Worldwide Education and Research Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.”

I am the guy in Sun’s Americas Software Practice tabbed with leading the effort to make Scott’s vision a reality for our large telecom customers. If you were here with me at Sun’s Immersion Week today, you could attend my class for Sun systems engineers on the topic of Project Destination.

Project Destination is a Sun Microsystems initiative to give reality to Scott’s vision that: Telcos must become “Destination Brands” or they will be only “Network Gateways” to companies that are Destination Brands (note that I said “Brand”, not “Site.” The term “site” is too limiting. We are talking about services delivered across the spectrum of online devices – phones, TVs and web browsers.)

A Destination Brand will:

  • Attract and retain subscribers to a brand
    • High perceived value: what subscribers want, when they want it
    • On demand information, media and online participation
  • Deliver rich user experience
    • Easy to use, responsive, innovative
    • Highly personalized – context based
    • Visually and aurally stimulating
    • Blend media types – photo/video/sound/music/text
  • Integrate user experience across three screens
    • Mobile device, desktop/laptop and TV
  • Enable new business models
    • Subscription, personalized advertising, transactions, service aggregation, managed services …

What in the world does this have to do with Identity? Identity is at the very heart of delivering highly personalized, context aware services to subscribers on their choice of device. I like to call it “Identity-enabled Service Orchestration.” Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I discuss issues and solutions in more detail.

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4 Responses to “Be a Destination, Not a Gateway”

    While I agree that Telcos can be marginalized by what you are calling destination sites, as a consumer, I can’t wait for the telco to be marginalized.

    In Canada, at least, every telco I have interacted with has provided very little of value, and in their ham-handed efforts to monetize every transaction I make on my cellphone especially, they just get in the road of innovation. They try to lock down customers into using their offerings as exclusively as possible, and their offerings provide far less value than the innovators out there.

    Telcos should shut up, get the hell out of the way, and let web-based innovators and hardware innovators drive demand for bandwidth. Then the telcos can just make money off of bandwidth. The iPhone is the perfect example of that.

    The iPhone is the first handset where the handset manufacturer was able to dictate to the telco what the functionality should be, rather than letting the telco lock the handset down to the terrible offerings of the telco’s services, like most mobile phone companies do. The result is the ONLY usable and truly useful internet-enabled mobile phone on the market.

    In my opinion, the telcos have already forfeit any customer expectations of them to do anything useful except provide bandwidth. I have no higher expectations of any telco I deal with in my daily life. I’m expecting and getting my dose of innovation from Google, Apple, and many of the great web2.0 companies out there like flickr, facebook, linked-in, digg, and many more. My telco has done nothing to help any of that, and by limiting bandwidth available to me for any particular service, they would just be harming the customer experience and angering their customers.


    Comment by Scott Flowers on February 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    In my opinion, the telco missed the first wave, when they first "open" the Internet to people with dial-up modems and cable-modems. The result? Google, Yahoo, MySpace, etc are not owned by Telco.

    If they miss the Second Wave (which is what you described in Project Destination), then it will be a very sad story for the telco indeed.

    Comment by Iwan Rahabok on March 3, 2008 at 6:31 am


    I agree that telcos, if they do not change, will forfeit any opportunity to regain the trust of subscribers.

    Project Destination is about enabling telcos to transform their business. I expect that some will; some won’t. But transformation will be necessary if they are to effectively compete


    Comment by Mark Dixon on March 3, 2008 at 8:31 am


    I agree that telcos missed the first wave. Will they miss the second? It is up to them. I believe they have opportunity to leverage their unique assets to deliver value to subscribers.


    Comment by Mark Dixon on March 3, 2008 at 8:34 am

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