I posted last week about Etelos, the company creating a viable business by doing much of the heavy lifting for web-apps – they host, install, package and support the apps, leaving the users to concentrate on what is core. My post generated a few comments one of which questioned the value of paying for something that was otherwise free;

$60/years you get an enterprise grade blogging service … seems a lot when compared to a zero cost for say Blogger.

In an “almost the same but not quite” situation, I stumbled across this post by Garett Rogers bemoaning the fact that personal support for Google’s offerings is virtually non-existent, even with the premium-paid for Google apps offerings. Garett pointed to Google’s Website Optimizer service plans which provide for a number of different (and charged) support scenarios;

    1. $250/hour: Designed for specific questions and quick answers. Maximum 1 call per hour. No commitment, no obligation.
    2. $600/3hours (in increments of 30 min): Designed for more complex issues at discounted hourly rates. Must be used within 6 months after first hour of service is used.
    3. $1,200/8hours (in increments of 30 min): Purchase this plan and use for an entire year. Must be used within 12 months after first hour of service is used.

This seems to be a similar situation that the Etelos suite of offerings solves, helping users by removing impedimenta to the use of the products. Doing anything and, hopefully, everything that isn’t related to core usage of the product.

Another comment to my original post questioned the necessity of these types of services;

I’m just not so comfortable with the underlying assumption you’re making that without someone holding your hand, you can’t do this on your own

It’s a good comment but it misunderstood my viewpoint – I don’t believe that it is impossible to do this stuff (stuff being install, upkeep, support etc) on your own, rather I believe that Web 2.0 tools are equally applicable to mass users as they are to the digerati among us. As such anything that is a barrier to their adoption should be removed. I would class the need to update PHP to run the latest WordPress install (for example) along with not being able to contact Google to ask about setting up hosted apps for your domain.

For another example witness the success of Mobile Mentor, the business that aims to train busy people in the use of their Mobile phones. While at first blush the idea of someone needing a personal coach to use their phone was a little bizarre – at the end of the day though it’s about ensuring that people have the tools they need to achieve the outcomes they desire. If the tool requirement includes a techy mobile phone, and the user doesn’t have the time or inclination to learn how to use said mobile phone – then Mobile Mentor fulfils a valid and necessary need.

Horses for courses and all that….

(And by the way – this post is the illustrious 1000th post since the inception of this blog – champagne and party poppers to all!)

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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