JCL Blog

My Biggest Summer Vacation Cost Was Bandwidth

We have an old tug boat and every year we take it to Canada for vacation.  We go to a somewhat remote area where there are not many opportunities to spend money.  So we bring fuel, food, and most of the other items we need with us.

Despite this, we do find ways to spend money at a small local grocery store.  We buy fresh produce, fishing licenses, bait, and hamburgers at the hamburger stand.  In the three weeks of our trip this year, we spent up to a few hundred dollars on each of these categories.

None of them compare to our spending on bandwidth however.  While in Canada we roam onto the Rogers network and our international data plan from Verizon delivers data bandwidth at a price of $25 for each 100 MB.  A movie download from iTunes is usually about 1.7 GB -- so at Verizon's price it would cost $425 -- so movies are not on the approved list!  Audiobooks are about 300 MB or $75 -- so no audiobooks either.  A song on iTunes is 10 MB -- so if you buy a song you pay iTunes $.99 and Rogers/Verizon $2.50.

I am sure many of you think this is a one off thing, but I bet many people found themselves in my position this summer.  The MiFi is awesome, but it you take it to a foreign country - watch out!  Now that we just expect to have data access all of the time we have forgotten that bandwidth costs money.  All it takes is one of these experiences and you start to think about how much bandwidth metering by the mobile carriers could dampen eCommerce.  

In the end we paid $1,150 for bandwidth over 3 weeks, or about $55 per day.  Some of this came from one computer that had automatic updates turned on and downloaded 500 MB of windows updates before I turned it off.  Yow!  Windows update cost me $125!  


Everyone Wants to be in Sales

It seems like everyone wants to be in sales these days.  The twist is the new entrants want to be in sales -- without salespeople.  I spend good deal of time thinking about this because my company is an outsourced provider of sales and marketing services.

In the past decade many web based services have forever changed the way that customers interact with the makers of the products and services they buy.  And those interactions are being done more often than ever without the participation of a salesperson.

Travel:  Web services like Priceline, Expedia, Hotels, and Kayak have been cutting the travel agent out of the travel business for over a decade now.  Some of these services have real people in call centers somewhere, but I rarely talk with them and I suspect you don't either.  

Specialty: You can buy just about anything from Amazon, eBay, iTunes, and Craig's List without ever encountering a salesperson.

Advertising: Google is working hard to position itself as the salesperson for everything, but for now they are mostly disrupting the sale of advertising.  Google leads the market for advertising on the web through its AdWords and AdSense programs in a largely self service model.

Homes:  Zillow has not completely blown up the realtors yet, but it may not be long.  

Cars:  The great recession has caused the car manufacturers to dramatically reduce the number of car dealerships.  And car dealerships were mostly full of salespeople.  Car buying may be the next thing we do without the aid of salespeople.

Everything Else:  Last week a the latest digital personal assistant, Siri, was launched.  Yes I know, the Newton never panned out for Apple, and the world (and a box in my garage) is filled with failed PDAs, but if this one gets over the top, it aims to be the salesperson of everything from taxis to concert tickets.  All of this done without any actual salespeople.

All of the human salespeople better do something!