Monday, September 1, 2008

Wi-Fi Laid to Rest

The announcement of the Washington State Department of Transportation that the wi-fi service at rest stops will be stopped marks the end of a two-year experiment.

More than that it marks either the end of a failed experiment or the recognition of a more outstanding killer app than the experimenters' business model. Depends on your perspective.

The tendency is to lament the end of another hi-tech service. But I look at the "glass-half-full" perspective and see a greater adoption of technology and an increased capability of technology offering the user a better option. This is not to blame any of the wi-fi partners: WSDOT, Parsons Transportation or Road Connection, Inc. In the technology field, just as in other industries if not so prevalently, failure often leads to the greater success.

Economic developers celebrate the region's status as a place of many business starts. And, they lament the region's status as a place of higher business failures. But the two are linked. The marketplace will decide the winner if we let it. This is not to excuse the market manipulation that seeks to maintain all businesses regardless of their economic worth. And, it is not an excuse for the market interference from either monopolistic practices or regulatory constraints that stifle economic progress.

The Challenge for a marketplace is that those able to influence it keep it open, with an ease of entry that enables serial entrepreneurs.

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