Subscribers to @Home Network are now able to sample, rent
or buy software right from their computer screens, through a deal with online
software-distribution house Release Software.
Today (March 23), @Home fires up a server inside its
high-speed network so that customers can try out a commercial software package or buy it
outright online, without having to go shovel the driveway or start dinner while they wait
for it to download.
John Garner, manager of media development for @Home, said,
"This is the first time that customers will be able to try software before they buy
it. It's pretty big news for @Home."
Matthew Klein, president of Release, said @Home subscribers
will have access to more than 3,000 popular software titles. They can try out software for
seven days before purchasing it with a credit card. After that, they are locked out,
"in a very polite way," Klein said.
"Everyone has known for the last few years that online
software purchases are an obvious business, as opposed to having all of this inventory
sitting around and rotting in warehouses," Klein said. "The difficulty has been
the time that it takes to download" over dial-up phone connections.
Enter @Home, which, by its very nature, works hundreds of
times faster than dial-up connections.
"We think that the current buying paradigm for buying
software is really lousy -- we call it 'shelf ware,' because it's software
that sits on your shelf because you don't really like it after you take the shrink
wrap off," Klein said. "This is the future of the software-distribution
Dubbed "Software Now" on @Home, the service is
accessible from several areas of the high-speed service.
Garner said @Home and Release have arranged for a revenue
split for purchased software, but they wouldn't discuss specifics. Klein said,
"The point was to make it very attractive for @Home."
To accommodate the software downloads, @Home installed an
FTP (file-transfer-protocol) server within its network, so that buyers don't
encounter any bandwidth bottlenecks when buying or trying software.
With that barrier to electronic commerce removed, the
bottleneck will now likely move away from the network and toward available hard disk space
on users' computers, executives said.