InBox: Do you think there is a need for file transfer/asset management at all?
Seebass: There is an inherent need for Internet-based file transfer because in many markets, the U.S., Europe and some others, it is a cheaper way to transfer files. The ASP model failed for a variety of reasons: the biggest is that it simply not that expensive to do asset management and file transfer yourself with off-the-shelf software.
InBox: And given the demise—or at least the restructuring—of several ASPs, did their infrastructure simply not satisfy the needs of the graphic arts industry? Or were their pricing models off base?
Seebass: The ASP pricing model requires ASPs to charge tens of thousands of dollars to each customers every month, and when it's a service that only costs $10,000 or $15,000 to do yourself, most people are not going to continue paying those costs over time. So while ASPs have proven that the model is useful to Internet file transfer, people have moved off to provide their own services because they don't want to pay an ASP for something they can do cheaper themselves. The last few weeks have shown that, if anything, your assets are probably in a less stable place if they are stored at an ASP.
InBox: What did ASPs do wrong?
Seebass: They are trying to charge too much for a service that is not that hard to provide yourself. The other problem with ASPs is they are inherently linked to the U.S. and the U.S. networks. They don't provide service internationally. They don't provide service to places where the Web service is slow. Most printers print for their local customers because it doesn't make a lot of sense to send a job from Madrid to Ohio and back to Barcelona. It's not just a reasonable way to do things. So when you're talking mostly to local customers, you probably want your server to be local. And that's not the way the ASP model works. It assumes a huge, completely free-flowing Internet worldwide, which just isn't the reality yet.