Cyberview 31/08/01

 As widely predicted, IPC Media has decided to streamline its online ventures by cutting around 90 staff and three consumer websites.

The move makes it the latest publisher to re-focus its internet plans in a bid to try and reduce a loss-making business.

Of course, IPC Media, like Emap and Future, jumped on the opportunities it thought the internet would bring including new streams of advertising revenue. It spent millions, not just on staffing levels but also on expensive technology. But despite its best efforts, unless you have got something that people want to use repeatedly, then your site will be very costly to maintain.

What this move does show is that the future of internet publishing may rest in the hands of big publishers with big budgets. Modestly staffed sites, which are not owned by big corporations – such as Pop Bitch (www.popbitch.com), TV Go Home (www.tvgohome) and The Register (www.theregister.co.uk) – have amassed loyal followings in their respective areas and prove a useful lesson to the big boys – get your focus right. In the online world, your size doesn’t really matter. What matters is getting it right.

 

Meanwhile, sports site Sportal has been given extra funding so it can continue. An extra £5m is being invested in the service as well as creating sites for sporting clubs, including AC Milan and Bayern Munich.

 

Yahoo, through its web-hosting service Geocities (www.geocities.com), is offering a number of professional options for those who want to have their own site. For around £8 a month, users can subscribe to a Webmaster deal that allows them to have their own domain name, web space and a massive 20GB of data traffic. What makes it quite compelling is the facility to allow sub-domains, which potentially makes it a very good option for anyone looking to set up their own publishing venture.

 

Despite closing a number of websites earlier this year, Trinity Mirror does seem to have one very good project still going, namely icCommunities (iccommunities.co.uk). At the moment, 11 areas across the country, including Wales, Liverpool and Birmingham, allow local non-profit groups to create and maintain their own website. Most sites using the free service seem to have the same look, but if Trinity Mirror starts to develop the service it could be a real winner.

 Leslie Bunder

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