Although the telcos are major ISPs, Yahoo and Google dominate the search engine market. Bell’s Sympatico wasn’t a bad try at a portal for a telco ISP but it never really captured the market or led to big successes in other applications areas. How could North American telcos miss email, search engines, mobile email, music distribution, publishing, video, videoconferencing, flat rate long distance, leaving the market open for local and long distance resellers, Amazon, Google, Kijiji, ebay, RIM, Skype, Netflix, Chapters, itunes and many more?
Their obsession with different versions of UBB has something to with it. In some cases, telcos had early versions of these services but pricing by the minute or number of characters sent, made them too expensive and the customers’ bills too unpredictable. This killed their venture into e-mail (Envoy was their version) and an early networked competitor to the PC and Internet (Bell’s version was called Alex, based on France’s Minitel).
This seems odd considering that flat rate pricing for local telephone service helped to give them superior market penetration and service in North America in comparison to Europe for many decades. If they want to succeed in application areas, they need to look beyond UBB and try more creative revenue models that have been critical factors in the success of the former upstarts that dominate these markets today.