[TheWorld] French Minitel Still Alive

I was wondering about how the french minitel is still used. It was my first experience from 1989 to 1995 of forum, email-like conversation, chat.

The minitel terminal at that time was almost free (now it's something like 2euros or 3dollars per month). Connection was not free (few cents per minutes) and you had access to many services (from matchmaking things to more cultural stuff like cinema schedule or ordering things). Another point is that minitel was frequently used for university inscription or logistic (tracking the stuff your ordered). Minitel was also interesting that it supported strong on-line communities (read Howard Rheingold books The Virtual Community to get info about this topic)

Even though lots of predictions, there was still 1bn connection in 2002. Wired in 2001 stated that:

But despite the brickbats and the frequent predictions of its imminent demise, Minitel has steadfastly refused to go gently into that good night.

Minitel is a proven business model and 15 years ago, like for BBS there were chat, ebanking, videogame dowloads (you had to connect the mintel and your amstrad cpc6128), forum, on-line order. At the time, it was also used to exchange video games and video tape by mail (the minitel was used to make connections and increase your social network). Minitel services (for instance you had to dial 36-15 and then the name of the service) brought you on a portal-like page (ascii !!), then you could access all the services I mentionned above.

BUT: - resolution ! for ascii art fans only ! - a bit too bureaucratic to have your own server (you had to ask for it to the french minister of telecommunications) - there was no search engine and no web - it was too "french centered" and too french oriented (it was ok berfore the net but after 1996 it was something like "se dont' want your english internet carp, let's keep or french minitel, no offense for my readers, I am french) - no equivalent of the web - .... it sucks now...

SO: it was a nice introduction to the on-line world but I don't understand how people can keep using it nowadays (apart from cost reasons in small logistics companies that). It's been 9 years that I did not use my old minitel :)