Saturday, July 28, 2007

My museum of content related artefacts (14)

The Demo Disc of Videotex Net (photograph) was the marketing tool for the revitalised online videotex service in 1989. By 1987 it was clear that the PTT service Viditel, started in 1980, would not become a large scale service. After a lot of confusion and study a plan was put on the table under the name Infodam on January 14, 1988. A large scale videotext service with 600.000 households and 120.000 Small and Middle Sized Enterprises (SMEs) was possible, the report concluded. There were some conditions:
- the organisation should, however, differ from the old PTT service Viditel;
- no subscription to the basic service;
- use of hybrid systems, PCs and Minitels.
- trigger services like the telephone directory.
The reaction to the report varied from very positive to questionable forecasts. In the magazine I&I, I published an article under the title Infodamned (a variation on the movie Amsterdamned of Paul Verhoeven which had just launched): Viditel had been unable to attract more than 30.000 users in seven years, while Infodam shamelessly projected 720.000 users. Potential investors such as KLM Pension Fund and MIP and the promise of a grant of the Ministry of Economic Affairs stopped the discussion by using investment as a carrot and demanded one plan and one network. On December 13, 1988 Videotex Nederland was founded; even the PTT participated in the venture. By April 1, 1989 the plans of Videotex Nederland were presented and sounded with 500.000 subscribers already more realistic. All systems would be used: Viditel technology, hybrid videotext and PCs and Minitels; only the two-way technology Demos which was under development in Zuid-Limburg should first show its economic feasibility.

Organisationally Videotex Nederland followed the Kiosque model without a fixed subscription. Videotex Nederland users could phone in through a buy number and select the service wanted. PTT Telecom took care of telephone and page billing.

On September 1989 Videotex Nederland was presented as a service and started with 80.000 users, of which 30.000 in the public service of Viditel and 50.000 in the closed users groups of companies and organisation. In 1993 no less than 129 million connected minutes were clocked, used by 300.000 users. Chat boxes, relations and erotica were on top of the list, followed by telebanking and the telephone directory.

Although Videotex Nederland showed increased use, the service had competition from bulletin board services and Internet. By 1994 the management of Videotex Nederland was looking for answers: should Videotex Nederland die a natural death or should the users be forced to move over to Internet. For the management it was not easy as the shareholders wanted to stick to the name of Videotex Nederland. In the end Videotex Nederland set up the Internet service World Access. In 1996 Riens Meijer was appointed interim manager of Videotex Nederland with the brief to terminate Videotex Nederland and have World Access merge with the successful service of Planet Internet. On January 1, 1997 the public videotex service Videotex Nederland stopped. In 17 years of videotex service some 1 million people had become acquainted with the service and had tried it, but only only 350.000 people signed up to videotext in the Netherlands; Internet had attracted more than double the amount of users between 1993 and 1997.
Blog Posting Number: 825

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