What's fascinating about the total data needs of Web-based software-as-a-service tools is how tricky it is to accurately measure, much less estimate, total data needs. I had to do major digging to get the few hints I found for, say, Google Apps. Lars Johansen, a Google Apps user, asked in a Google Product Forums page how much data will be consumed doing basic office work such as syncing his Google Apps accounts with his Microsoft ( MSFT) Outlook. Johansen says Google limits the amount of email data it can sync in any given session to 1GB, which sounds like more than enough -- until I realized my current Google Apps mail account has 17 GB of data in it, or about eight times the 2GB monthly data cap enforced by TIM. When I tested the data needs of more moderate files on my Google Apps, I found a user could easily burn through 100MB in a few hours uploading and downloading files with comments, photos or spreadsheets. The 2GB TIM limit would last barely a few days. Nobody is getting work done in a data-thrifty environment like that. The free Web illusion
Investors will be rewarded for having the courage to think as Tagliapietra does. Because strictly speaking, our cherished American notion of a "free Web" is actually a carefully crafted illusion. It's a result of our flat-rate, all you can eat broadband Web pricing model that is matched with a no-cost Web search and retail model that hides the truth that real money must be spent to move data around on a network. But global markets have no incentive to maintain this fib. Operators such as TIM make good money charging real money for Web access, and there will be little North American software-as-a-service companies can do to change that model overseas. No matter how you look at it, whoever attempts to waddle up to the all-you-can-eat Web data smorgasbord in an overseas Web data-capped market won't be eating long.