Plans to deploy Europe's first commercial infrastructure for the distribution and sale of digital content and services on the Internet have been announced by the consulting provider Andersen Consulting and Qpass, the provider of services for selling digital content.
Aimed at transforming the European market, the new services are expected to enable the web-based distribution of innovative digital products, including interactive games, personalized news services and music on demand. The plans are part of a broader equity investment relationship between the two firms.
According to Andersen, today's leading content companies face formidable hurdles to creating a profitable on-line business, ranging from high infrastructure costs to long development cycles. As a result, many companies have withheld valuable web content despite recognising that their consumers will pay for relevant, high value digital products from trusted brand owners.
Launched in the US in June 1997, Qpass is an e-commerce service provider offering "customer registration, authentication, billing, merchandising, promotions, and continuing customer care." The aim is to relieve online content providers of some of the technical burden involved in taking their product to market. Citing partners like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Corbis, the world's largest digital image library, Qpass says more than 1.9 million products are available through their service.
In the United States, Andersen Consulting has been involved in all aspects of the Qpass business since its launch. In addition to developing architectures that accommodate multiple payment methods, currencies, languages and regulations, the firm is also introducing Qpass to its many clients and contacts among Europe's major media organisations.
Commenting on the announcement, Bill Barnard, Andersen Consulting's Managing Partner, Media & Entertainment - Europe, said, "The extension of our pioneering relationship with Qpass into Europe is an exciting prospect. The potential growth of digital content and services here is tremendous, and Qpass has the energy and experience to succeed. We will be helping them tackle the challenges unique to the local markets of Europe and realise their vision of a seamless global service."
Jackson L. Wilson, Managing General Partner of Andersen Consulting Ventures and a Qpass board member added, "Europe is poised to become an eCommerce powerhouse and is already a hotbed for technology innovation. This investment underscores our belief in the value that the Qpass infrastructure can deliver as European businesses accelerate their transition to the electronic economy."
"A significant percentage of Qpass members hail from Northern Europe," said Chase Franklin, co-founder and CEO of Qpass. "We believe this demonstrates a large, untapped demand for European content products. With Andersen Consulting's assistance - in technology services, funding, business development acumen, and access to the global marketplace - we believe that we will be able to meet our aggressive objective of deploying the Qpass service in Europe in the second quarter of 2000."