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An open letter to Om

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 by Dave Winer.

In a thread about netbooks on his blog, Om asks what he's missing in his analysis of the relationship between the computer industry and users re netbooks. I spent some time thinking of an analogy, and came up with one about the industry we all love to hate -- the airline industry.  Permalink to this paragraph

So here's the story... Permalink to this paragraph

Once upon a time there was an MIT professor who said: "I have an idea, let's design an airline that can get you to a great resort for $100! Then every schoolkid can afford to have a great vacation in Mexico, Italy or Thailand!!" Permalink to this paragraph

No matter how hard he tried the professor couldn't come up with a solution. The moguls of the airline industry sighed in relief. Their margins were safe.  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named southwest.gifNot so fast! A Taiwanese airline named Susa discovered a way to do it for $600, which was still a lot cheaper than the airlines could get you to Italy or Spain for. Huge numbers of people signed up and the airline bustled with new business. People came home from their holidays and told everyone that they had a great trip. And with the new economies of scale Susa was able to get the price down to $350. Not the $100 that the MIT professor promised, but still cheap enough that lots more people could have a vacation, and while some people still went on the more expensive and luxurious airlines, more and more people were flying Susa. Permalink to this paragraph

In fact this happened in the airline industry, and it forced a lot of the big airlines to either merge or go out of business. Maybe analysts in the airline industry say that any day the users will tire of the cheap flights, but they'd be just as wrong as the analysts in tech who predict the demise of netbooks. Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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Last update: 10/14/2009; 10:21:11 AM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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