Jump to content

saila.com

Online media matters

Main Page Rants

Canuck Portals

I've always said things in Canada move one and a half to two years behind the U.S. when it comes to the Net.

Now, after watching the final dust settle in that country's portal war, the opening salvo was shot across this country's bow on May 3.

Rogers Communication and Excite (yes, that Excite) announced a $30-million deal to create a Canadian portal.

Rogers' move allows it to bring together two distinct products, and meld them into one: cable and magazines. Rogers can leverage its cable-modem customer bas and direct them to a home page containing Canadian, news, weather, financial and entertainment information supplied by its own products.

Products like Chatelaine, Maclean's, Canadian Business (to name but a few top profile magazines).

That one-two punch of access and content, combined with the backend expertise of a major search engine company like Excite creates the potential of an awesome duo.

If they are serious in creating a true destination portal for Canadians, then the other three sites fighting for portal status are going to have to wake up and spend some serious capital. The two top contenders as of now are Canoe (which I work for) and Sympatico (which is a minority owner of Canoe, and is Bell Canada's ISP service), Southam's Canada.com is a distant third.

Portal Tagline Advantages Disadvantages
CANOE Americans Surf, Canadians CANOE
  • Brand
  • Partnerships
  • Content
  • No access offered
  • In competition with part-owner
  • New ownership
Sympatico "Canada's Home on the Internet"
  • ISP customers
  • Lifestyle-focus
  • High-speed service
  • No strong partnerships
  • Weak brand beyond ISP
  • Lifestyle-focus
Canada.com "Your Canadian Search Engine"
  • Already designed as a portal
  • Potentially rich content
  • Domain name
  • Poor use of existing content
  • No partnerships
  • No access offered
Excite Canada (Excite-d Rogers?)
  • High-speed access
  • Rich content
  • Strong partnerships
  • Late in the game
  • Another Yahoo.ca-like deal?
  • Able to exploit potential?

With such a large initial capital investment—and with Rogers' holdings/deals with Bid.Com, @Home, Quicken.ca, among others—Excite Canada could quickly grab a lot of marketshare.

The two key factors are:

Presuming the companies already in the game want to stay in it, the end result of this is good for the Canadian Internet user, and the culture as a whole.

The more home-grown content developed in Canada, the better for the average user trying to find out about Taber and not Littleton.

The more home-grown content, the more jobs.

Lastly, the development of a strong online media, profiling new technology companies, may have other unforeseen advantages.