Sky is back in the internet-via-set-top-box game, with the launch of its Sky Net service. There’s plenty of information about it in Tracy Swedlow’s interview with its boss, Ian Valentine. He claims to have 600 sites ‘registered’ with the new service, which uses WTVML (oh great, another markup standard) to deliver a web-like experience to your telly. Yes, we have heard most of this before, with the ill-fated ‘Open…’. But Valentine reckons that Sky Net is different:
The thing about Open… was that it tried to compete with the Internet rather than work with it, and as such it wasn’t open at all. Open… wanted to build and host a service for you… basically, they created your storefront, and charged a lot of money to do so. It just wasn’t competitive with the Internet. What we’re doing now costs very little, and allows companies to leverage their existing e-commerce offerings.
The ‘launch services’ aren’t especially inspiring at first glance, offering a web-lite kind of experience – driven, for now at least, by a dial-up internet connection, and charged at local-call rate. I just don’t accept that tech-savvy ‘early adopters’ will appreciate the convenience of surfing the internet from the living room sofa; certainly not at dial-up speed.
This is what Sky Digital probably should have done five or perhaps even ten years ago. But they didn’t, and both the market and user expectations have moved on. I’m not even sure there’s room at the bottom of the market for this. You can have a perfectly good Dell PC, including a flat LCD screen, delivered to your door for under £300; and Carphone Warehouse will give you ‘free’ broadband. Who needs this?