Speculations as to what Comcast will or will not do with Plaxo are fluid through the social web.
Some opinion leaders are saying that Comcast in of itself has a bad image throughout the social web centered around their customer service problems and their image of trying to control internet users..
Many main stream bloggers feel the same about Plaxo and calling it a “big spam machine” and calling its “Pulse” offering abysmal. Since the announcement about Comcast acquiring Plaxo the blog spin has gone negative and the conversations have taken over Comcast’s already suffering relations in the “open social” world of the net.
So what appears as yet more fuel to Comcast current fires could actually be the calm before a bigger storm brewing on the fringes of convergence..
Putting the Pieces Together
Comcast has more than 25 million subscribers to either cable, internet or voice services. Plaxo claims to have 40 million individual profiles. The speculation, reinforced by Comcast press release, is that Comcast wants to provide video channels from the social web to the television and launch a new interactive cable box which will make “social networks” accessible via cable TV.
A recent Comcast Capital announcement says “GridNetworks, a peer-to-peer television distribution company, has revealed that it has taken investment from Comcast Interactive Capital. The funding was part of a previously announced $9.5 million Series A round whose participants have trickled out over time and include Cisco Systems.
Comcast is also investing heavily in WIMAX initiatives riding the wave of wireless access through multiple devices.
Comcast Capital recent investments and the acquisition of Plaxo suggest a peak into the big picture of intent. The playbook appears to be centric to convergence of media, access, content creation and user interaction across multiple channels of distribution. A bold move and one that would seem sound but the challenges of winning the people over are many.
The Socialutions Side of the Equation
According to a Forrester Research project “Customers would rather deal with credit card companies and cell phone operators than their video providers, based on customer experience rankings compiled by Forrester Research Inc”.
”The best ranked video provider, DirecTV Inc., earned a mediocre “okay” in service from customers. On the Forrester-created scale, the direct-broadcast satellite leader scored an overall consumer experience index of 69 out of a possible 100. The ranking is based on consumer scores for categories including usefulness, ease of use and enjoyableness.”
”The highest ranked cable provider, Cox Communications Inc., also was rated just okay by consumers, with a score of 63%. Of the seven cable and satellite companies ranked by name, two earned scores that ranked them “very poor” — Cablevision/Interactive Optimum and Charter Communications Inc. For their parts, Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp. were ranked “poor” in the analysis”.
The biggest challenge for Comcast lies in the relationship it has with the markets, the users and their related experiences. While their apparent strategy seems very sound the ultimate judge is and will continue to be from the end users.
The current attitudes within the socialsphere are suspicion and concerns about privacy, security, intent and control are spreading faster than the positive possibilities of the apparent strategy. As with many other brands jumping into the emerging relationship economy, the trust factor between the people and the corporations appears to be critical cap.
The Socialution to bridging that cap will require new methods and new thinking centric to building community relations that instill trust.
What say you?