Snooping On Competitors
I'm thinking about getting into a market as an (online) Application Service Provider. There are already about 20/30 companies operating for this particular application - many of them are pretty similar. They nearly all operate by providing a certain level of service for free and then converting users into paying customers by charging for extra features or the 'pro' service.
If they aren't a publicly funded company, I imagine you're asking the impossible. If they're privately owned/funded, then they don't have to disclose their financials to anyone but the relevant tax authorities, and the tax folks tend to keep that information confidential.
If they're privately held (under a certain number of stockholders -- I think 50 -- and/or revenues I think below $10 million a year) you're unlikely to find out, since it's not in their interest to disclose their figures.
2 words: Social Engineering
Who cares? If your take on the market does something no one else does, and if enough people decide that they have to have that bell or whistle, and are willing to pay for it despite the others in the competition, you will make money.
I'm unemployed; help me get a job with one of them and I'll pass you information.
Karl, I can't agree -- "If you build a great product, they will come". You need to determine the market size, and the effectiveness of the competition.
I've heard web email provider is a great business nowadays ...
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