Pay-per-use models ready for online business

By Ephraim Schwartz, InfoWorld |  Software

WITH THE DEMISE of the pure-play dot-com business model -- which said you could give away content and make it up in volume -- technology providers are readying pay-per-use content management systems to allow content providers to change the way they run their businesses.

The ability to meter various types of content delivery, measure QoS (quality of service), and disburse micropayments to an entire set of delivery partners will allow companies to seek profits from customers, not just advertisers.

Companies such as Narus Technologies, Nortel Networks, and Cisco Systems have been ramping up technology during the past year that enables peering into packets. Plano, Texas-based Electronic Data Systems (EDS) plans to announce in the second half of this year an additional technology that can verify the QoS to the so-called last mile.

EDS' reconciliation technology will make sure that the data a customer requests is received on the customer's cell phone or PDA with a high-quality, timely transmission and that the data has been used. Once confirmed, the reconciliation technology can trigger payments to all of the partners, including content creators, distributors, and aggregators.

"Our intent is basically to put the mechanisms in place to automate the transaction clearing for all of it," said Reza Jafari, president of EDS' global communications media and entertainment industry group.

Signaling what may be a large-scale shift toward cashing in on services and content on the Web, Major League Baseball (MLB) revealed plans this week to end its free Internet audio game broadcasts in favor of a fee-based subscription service. Seattle-based RealNetworks plans to pay MLB Advanced Media $20 million in three years for rights to the audio service, which will be available on Real.com and MLB.com.

Next month, Metapa will launch a hosted asset management service that will distribute digital or analog assets to Web sites or wireless devices and will track how the assets are used. Leveraging a software-based operating platform, the service is capable of tracking how each asset is used, how much is paid for each asset, and who is owed what, said D'Arcy Young, president and co-founder of Los Angeles-based Metapa.

Other heavyweights such as IBM are ramping up digital-rights efforts. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company recently teamed with Portal Software and Reciprocal to create a digital content distribution service. The Reciprocal Digital Clearing Service integrates an IBM e-distribution product called Electronic Media Management System and a service definition platform from Portal Software called Infranet.

EDS' Jafari said enterprises can also use the reconciliation technology for a number of internal uses.

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