Not whining but drowning

Hard copy from March’s PC Forum makes compelling reading (how do you blog hard copy?). The pace of change in the real world adds melancholy footnotes to the proceedings. Joe Nacchio was CEO of Qwest and an undisputed knight of the new economy until he joined the list of (super-rich) casualties in June. Questioned in a hostile conference session (incidentally the session during which Dan Gillmor blogged Nacchio’s ‘whining’) he essentially admits defeat, three months before Qwest’s effective bankruptcy.

“…you’re going to need a model that recognizes the ability to get returns on capital based upon who spends it. You’re also probably going to need a subsidy.”

Nacchio says it’s impossible to make a profit from telecoms infrastructure without subsidy, the ‘Internet model’ of open access and unbundled content and services leaves nothing for the carriers. Game over.

Konrad Hilbers is CEO of Napster. His account of the company’s attempts to arrive at a sensible licensing arrangement with the majors while keeping his off-the-air business alive is almost poignant.

“The brand is not suffering yet, though we’re watching it very carefully and balancing the quality of licenses that we get versus the time that passes by”

This is two months before Napster sought bankruptcy protection and was sold to Bertelsmann for $8M. Hilbers’ balancing act is a delicate one. The implication is that there’s a deal out there but that Napster might be dead before it’s achieved ? or, worse, that the record labels might deliberately stall him until it’s too late. Although, in principle, it’s still game on for Napster, are the labels any more ready to deal now that Bertelsmann owns the firm outright?
What do you think?