It's a dizzying alphabet, well-represented in the shifting names of the San Francisco Giants' ballpark (the House that Barry Built?). Christened Pac Bell Park at its 2000 opening, it then became SBC Park, and this year AT&T Park, all within six years. Of course, it's not just baseball fans who are confused. All of us who buy cable service, phone service, and Internet service are at the mercy of corporate mergers, not knowing who's going to own and run our services when we get up tomorrow.
Now the new AT&T has given birth to its own triple play, recently announcing a partnership with Akimbo. Akimbo, which has partnered with numerous TV and movie studios, will provide video on demand (VOD) - as many as 10,000 movies and archival TV shows - to customers of AT&T's soon-to-be-launched (summer, in telco beta) service. The video, which will be offered alongside the Dish satellite service for current TV, is one play. Data, through high-speed modems, is the second. And the old familiar voice is the third. Triple play, and then add in such services as DVR functionality, caller ID, and Yahoo! photo sharing.
Outsell gives the SBCs, we mean AT&Ts, credit. As the blogosphere was awash in end-of-the-world warnings that all "voice" would soon be free, these voice companies, those selling traditional telephone (and isn't that an anachronistic word) services, figured out that they'd better get some new revenue streams to replace those that would inevitably thin, if not die.
Not to be outdone, cable companies like Comcast are moving quickly into the traditional telco sphere, offering high-speed Internet and a range of calling options, lining up at fiber light speed the same kind of consumer triple plays.
In Outsell's Opinion: Traditional print publishers, especially newspaper and magazine publishers, can learn from the example. No matter how much effort newspaper companies invest in online classifieds products, their ability to maintain market share and pricing power is inevitably diminishing. The newsweeklies and business magazine weeklies and monthlies also inevitably see their users finding the immediacy and dailiness of the Internet another reason to buy and read magazines less frequently. What print publishers can learn is how other legacy companies - faced with inevitable loss of substantial revenue streams - are reinventing themselves to find new customers and new products that make sense in the emerging media landscape.