Interest in software subscription services is on the uptick. With the Into Networks deal, Juno is seeking to balance its free, ad-supported dial-up business with more paying broadband customers. The Internet service provider is the latest company to enter the streaming software market, after Excite@Home's announcement in November that it would offer a broadband software application service, also with software streaming provider Into Networks.
"It a very good move" for Juno, said Jupiter Media Metrix analyst Joe Laszlo. "If you're trying to attract customers to a broadband service, its important to offer them more than just high-speed connections or always on-connections. There should be some applications, some things you can only do with a broadband connection in addition to just the benefits of the access itself."
Streaming software enables PC users to access files stored remotely on a server without downloading a copy onto a hard drive. Streaming is commonly used to broadcast media content, including music and video files that are accessed using a media player such as RealNetworks' RealPlayer.
With the Into Networks application, customers would also use the company's Into Player. Instead of streaming media, however, Into users can stream software onto their desktops, getting access to an application without installing it on their computers.
Under the deal, Into Networks will provide Juno Express broadband subscribers with fee-based, on-demand access to software, including education, games and business titles such as Lotus Organizer, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Monopoly, and the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Marketing Materials."
Juno Express subscribers will be able to test software in free trials, rent individual titles for a few days, or subscribe to channels fed by more than 30 software publishers. Into Networks said single-day rentals would cost about $2.99, and a full subscription would cost less than $15.
"What gets people excited about broadband are the unique content, services and features that only high-speed connections can provide," Juno Chief Executive Charles Ardai said in a statement.
Some analysts, however, said the market for software streaming subscriptions is still unproven. Richard Doherty, director of research for Seaford, N.Y.-based The Envisioneering Group, said that consumer adaptability will be a factor in whether streaming software is ready for the masses.
"The technology is there, and Juno is now prepared to be at the forefront of the volumes of streaming software applications that are delivered," he said. But "the business model is still a little fuzzy."