The point of Control
All the investment that’s been made in building out the Internet has created an opportunity to build companies around the control points of new services or applications that utilize the infrastructure that’s out there.
For example, the real value of Skype is the central control point that knows where everyone is and helps connect people over the Internet – this isn’t simple – you have to deal with changing addresses because of DHCP and Network Address Translation (very few Internet users have fixed IP addresses any more) plus have a way of connecting users together despite firewalls and other network security devices.
This is an example of a new wave of company opportunities – what kind of business can you build that is enabled by a control point that orchestrates a service or application? The cost of scaling this business model is relatively modest because the control point is involved only at the beginning (and optionally, the end) of the session. Once the session has been initiated, the user to user connection is peer to peer and doesn’t require the intermediation of the control point.
The issues associated with getting the two user endpoints into a session aren’t trivial but clearly can be done. In fact, this would make a great open source project – a layer of software with an API that worked with a control point to establish a session between the two clients and dealt with the DHCP/NAT/firewall issues.
As bandwidth has become almost free and paid for by the users, the real value has shifted to the data (content) and the control points. With all the current hype in the content space, there are white space opportunities for building businesses around the points of control.