2000 saw the dot com bubble burst. That was the time when a lot of big names had a tough time and a ton of smaller start-ups came into existence. That was when the internet was just beginning to get affordable. New ISPs sprang up every day and in the meiee, a Calcutta based ISP called Caltiger, came up with a cool new idea, called in short ,”free.”
Yes, free dial-up! It was a huge sensation. Go to www.caltiger.com (don’t bother going there now, the site is just a landing place for loads of ads now), register an account, describe your likes (I wonder why this would be important.. advertising I bet 😛 ) and download the software to access ‘The Free Internet’. The software acted as a dialler; it would, ummm, also place an ad toolbar on your desktop.
Users abandoned this model as quickly as they got hooked on to it. Getting connected was like winning the lottery, and just in case you did, getting a reliable connection was like winning the state lottery and the national lottery on the same day. Add to that the toolbar, which blocked a quarter of the screen; and yes, it was resource hog too (on the 64 MB RAM machines of the day, which were quite a thing to own), causingthe machines to freeze. The company soon walked the plank.
Actually, the idea could never have lasted. Imagine something like that today: we’d probably have a Firefox add-on to get rid of the ads. And theres broadband, noone would be stuck on a dialup just because its free. And coming down to silly things, there’s always the idea of using your monitor’s controls to make the screen larger vertically and then moving it down!
Caltiger is such a classic example for how disastrous un-planned startups are. I wonder what was running in the heads of all the guys who were behind this. The model is just similar to – I’ll provide free High Definition Channels, but all you’ll get to watch are the ads I show 😛