Tapez 3615 Pour Fair Votre Resérvation sur Minitél...
June 2, 2001 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Tapez 3615 Pour Fair Votre Resérvation sur Minitél... Long Ago, before the Web, there was France's Minitel teletext. The French consider it a succès; I'm not so sure, since a Minitel terminal was never demonstrably more useful than than a touchtone phone in North America. In any case, Minitel may offer some lessons as to what type of Web commerce are and are not commercially viable.
posted by ParisParamus (10 comments total)
I'm not so sure a web browser is demonstrably more useful than a touchtone phone. It's all about the user experience, baby. For my money, the future of online e-commerce, with internet-delivered applications via .NET or Mozilla or (flavor-of-the-month), looks more and more like Minitel with pretty pictures.

Minitel also demonstrated the importance of online communities when the American parallel was still largely confined to disparate BBS-style systems, from the WELL to Compuserve. Indeed, as this article suggests and others have made clear, much of the e-commerce has already migrated to the web. What's keeping Minitel alive, at all, is the chat and e-mail functionality.
posted by dhartung at 8:35 PM on June 2, 2001

What's keeping Minitel alive, at all, is the chat and e-mail functionality.

I think that's optimistic. What's really at work is a base of installed hardware which was highly subsidized or given away; and still-expensive Internet access.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:51 PM on June 2, 2001

Also, its faire. My English needs editing too.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:07 PM on June 2, 2001

For a point of comparison: while lastminute.com and its ilk have attempted to seize the UK's impulse holiday market, you're still more likely to get a bargain fortnight in Ibiza if you use Teletext -- the information service provided in along with the TV signal. It's low low tech (I studied viewdata programming in the 80s) but it's bloody effective.
posted by holgate at 6:20 AM on June 3, 2001

Quite funny: I saw ads in American magazines two or three years ago for a Minitel service.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:35 AM on June 3, 2001

re: Teletext. Lots of the holiday companies that advertise on it run a feed on their websites showing the teletext picture in all its graphical splendour. A pretty poor desision I think, akin to sticking radio comentary on a television football match. Virgin travelstore shows this quaint procedure off well. Click 'holidays' to have a look. A bit strange from virgin considering that they have really invested in the web. Teletext have a good site themselves with good SMS alerts.
posted by nedrichards at 8:00 AM on June 3, 2001

that's a wierd experience--the teletext. Maybe the cheesy graphics suggest "low price"? Why else would they do it?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:12 AM on June 3, 2001

I went to a French-American elementary school (here in SF), all the way from k-8, and for a while they tried to implement Minitel so that every student had one. It didn't work out that well because the charges for chat and stuff were pretty damn expensive (by the minute), and by then computers had already passed the Minitel's capabilities by far (I think I actually had Minitel software for my mac, instead of a unit). In France though, it seems like every household has one... Seemed pretty useful there.
posted by swank6 at 10:27 AM on June 3, 2001

Swank6, what were you dialing into from SF to access Minitel?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:41 PM on June 3, 2001

One prophetic aspect Minitel might be the size of its terminals and the way they could be placed anywhere, rather than requiring their own desk. Yes, notebook computers are small too, but way more expensive.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:16 PM on June 4, 2001

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