HITS Daily Double
"Consumers will revert to a paid system if they see benefit—in the experience, content, good will and
so forth."
——Brilliant's Kevin Bermeister


Will Brilliant's Altnet "Piggybacking" Plan
Fill Businesses’ Piggybanks?
Whether you view it as a great, free promotional vehicle or "outright thievery" (depending on which superstar artist manager you ask), the file-sharing phenomenon chugs along, gathering millions of users. Some of those users swear they’ll never buy a CD again, while others declare just as adamantly that they buy more because of all the stuff they’re finding out about via downloading. Yes, you can find a lot for free on Morpheus, LimeWire, et al., but certainly not everything—and not 24/7, or with any kind of reliable quality.

So here’s the scenario promised last week, courtesy of Brilliant Digital CEO/President Kevin Bermeister. Brilliant has developed software for bundling with P2P applications that enables businesses to "piggyback" on existing networks, utilizing their networking and processing power. Users of the free services can "opt in" to participate, in which case they earn "points" toward swag. Thus is born Altnet, a secure network that hitchhikes atop the "pirate" one and can offer paying customers superior, reliable content. "Consumers will revert to a paid system if they see benefit—in the experience, content, good will and so forth," insists Bermeister.

Meanwhile, in addition to being where the customers are already—rather than having to peel to lure them away to "legit" services—content owners shed the overhead of constructing in-house Web architecture. Or, to translate from the Geekspeak, grab a cheap ride on a bullet train that’s already in motion rather than paying to build a locomotive from scratch.

"It’s a value equation," Bermeister ventures, adding that it’s time for content companies to "get in the mix and make the most of what is available." Sure, music that starts "secure" would end up in the online free bazaar after a while, so the task would be to create an entire experience that improved on the time-intensive junk-shop browsing of P2P. Are approaches like this one risky? Yes. Are they worth investigating? You tell me…
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