AvantGo to Greatly Restrict Custom Channels
Update: AvantGo has dropped this policy in favor of a new one that isn't so restrictive . Therefore, most of this information is out of date.
Beginning in just a couple of days, AvantGo will limit the number of subscribers to custom channels to just eight people for each channel. Custom channels are created by users as links to small sites that don't have a formal contract with AvantGo. Regular channels, like the ones listed on AvantGo's site, won't be affected. On February 20, all AvantGo users will be unsubscribed from all their custom channels. The first eight people to resign up for each custom channel will be allowed to do so. All others will be blocked.
This won't affect sites that have a contract with AvantGo, including this one.
According to AvantGo, some sites are abusing its policy of allowing users to subscribe to any page they want and creating commercial sites without signing a contract with AvantGo. From AvantGo's perspective, these sites are using AvantGo's servers and networks for their own commercial gain without paying AvantGo for it.
This isn't a new policy from the company. Custom channels have always been limed to non-commercial use. AvantGo has never tried very hard to enforce this policy before, however. Apparently, it has decided that, with its limited resources, checking each custom channel for all of its 4.5 millions subscribers is impractical so it has decided on this slightly draconian solution.
Like most small, high-tech companies, AvantGo has been struggling to remain afloat. In its most recent quarter, the company had a pro forma net loss of $4.7 million, or $0.14 per share, on revenues of just $5.3 million. So the company can't afford any unnecessary expenses or to pass up any sources of revenue.
Still, the company needs to be careful about driving away companies that host useful channels. According to PocketPCThoughts, it received a bill of $6000. The site immediately pulled its channel.
There is no charge for a custom channel with eight or fewer subscribers. For sites with between 9 and 100 subscribers, the annual fee is $1,000. For those sites with less than 500 subscribers, the fee is $4,000. Between 500 and 1000, AvantGo charges $6,000. All sites with more than 1,000 subscribers are supposed to work out an individual contract with AvantGo.
ABC News and ESPN have recently removed their AvantGo channels. No reason was given but it's possible they became too expensive.
While it has proved to be quite popular, AvantGo isn't the only application that can download Web content onto a handheld. There are alternatives like iSilo, Pendragon Browser, Plucker, and Aladdino.
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