Amazingly, the number of new content delivery providers in the market continues to climb with three new CDNs launching in the past few weeks. The new entrants, which I will cover next week are Jittr Networks, SimpleCDN and EdgeStream. I think it’s great that more companies are offering services in the market and that investors seem to have no qualms in pumping more cash into the industry. But we’re now looking at over 40 content delivery networks and it’s just too many. There is not enough business out there today to support so many providers, all offering different variations of the same service. On Monday I will be updating the list of CDNs that I track in the industry at www.cdnlist.com
I think choice is great and why not have as many choices as possible for any product or service? The problem being, in the long run, many of the CDNs are not going to be able to grow their revenue to meet their investors expectations. I keep hearing almost everyone say how they are going to give Akamai or Limelight a run for their money, but nearly all of the new CDNs, or those who have been around for a year or so, will do at most, 5-7% of Limelight’s projected 2008 revenue. So far, only Level 3 is showing any signs of really growing their CDN revenue, based on the data they gave out last week during their earnings call.
That’s not to say that all CDNs are trying to go after Limelight or Akamai or even want to become that big. A rare few of the CDNs make it clear that they don’t want to be the size of Limelight and if they do $15 million this year they will be happy. Kudos to them for not giving into the market pressure of a new company thinking they have to launch to the market saying how they are going to take down the number two provider. What’s wrong with being a smaller, profitable company not in the top three based on revenue? Nothing. Better you set expectations properly, your own and your investors, and survive for years to come in the market.
I hate to say it, but we’re going to see a lot of cracks in the CDN sector starting 18 months from now. The market simply can’t sustain so many vendors. If the market size was five or ten times what it is today, then all of these providers would have a shot, but it’s not that big and won’t be that big 18 months from now. For all the new CDNs, none of them seem to really have any idea what percentage of the market they think they can grab. While many of them say how they can take business from other providers, rarely do they say what percentage of the market they think they can get. I also don’t hear from any of them what they think the market size is for CDN services in the U.S.
I’m all for new players in the market, giving everyone a fair chance, providing customers with more options and having the industry grow as a whole. But when you have so many providers in the space, all saying the same thing; we are cheaper than Akamai and/or our delivery is better quality, especially for high-bitrate video, then you can’t expect to grow your business for the long run. And with more CDNs in stealth mode still waiting to launch, and telcos like AT&T and others taking more of an interest in getting into the CDN market, the number of providers for CDN services is going to take a real hit when the VC money starts to run out.