NetWatch

Issue No 1

22 January 1997


GLOBAL VILLAGE

Japan

A new market research study "Online Opportunities: Understanding the Internet", shows 1.4 million Japanese 'regularly' use the Internet. By the year 2000 that number is expected to grow to reach 9.9 million on conservative growth estimates.

Singapore

The Singapore Government is setting up an optical fibre network, I-Hub, upon the existing Internet backbone. I-Hub will also have gateways to new communications modes such as wireless data and cable TV. There are an estimated 150,000 Internet users in Singapore.(pop)3.3 m

China plugs in

Despite censorship the Internet is growing in China. The State Council Information Leading Group ordered the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to block sites "suspected of carrying spiritual pollution." When officials decide a site should be banned, routers are programmed so that information from that site will not be accepted. An estimated 100,000 people now use the Internet in China, a figure is expected to grow to 1 million by year 2000. According to China government statistics, demand for personal computers is expected to increase by 50 percent this year to 1.7 million units. Internet users are required to register with the police.

SERVICES ON-LINE

Venture Capital

Venture Capital World, Sweden provides a direct online database link between investors searching for opportunities and entrepreneurs in need of venture capital. Launched in 1996, it has already received world-wide recognition helping venture capitalists meet financial goals.

Sharper Image

The Sharper Image has opened the doors on a revamped Sharper Image store on the Internet. The online customer will experience the familiar feel of a Sharper Image retail location allowing customers to order online, search for a gift by the recipients' interests, as well as hundreds of The Sharper Image's well-known products.

Get good news all the time

Financial services organisations can now package, publish and market real-time data, to their clients on personalised Internet pages showing them the real-time value of their portfolios. "Slingshot" a product of CSK Financial Services Dublin allows brokers, banks and other financial institutions to provide clients the same information that they would get from a dedicated market data terminal a tenth of the cost.

Big Blue makes Internet commerce debut

IBM has released CommercePOINT allowing smaller businesses and retailers to create a shopping environment providing a more personalised, service-oriented experience. Mass merchandisers and wholesalers can provide "smart catalogues" individual prices and special programs to favoured customers. "personal agents", digital certificates (electronic ID's), digital wallets , SET- based transactions.

DOING BUSINESS

Business's slow to adapt to Internet

Arthur D. Little (ADL), says the first steps toward electronic commerce have begun as companies bring today's business practices to the Internet. Converting today's paper business processes into electronic form is a good first step the report notes. "However, Companies must think beyond narrowly defined stovepipes. How they do marketing today, how they attract new customers -- these activities must change in order to fully leverage the power of electronic commerce."

Where's the beef?

"The time has come for marketers to demonstrate a return can be made from online investments. Unless this happens, marketing dollars will be kept where they can be seen and measured for effectiveness." Dr. J. Walker Smith, Managing Partner, Yankelovich Partners

SURVEYS

Geneva Copyright Conference

The first large copyright conference in 25 years is sitting in Geneva wrestling with the vexed question of securing copyright on the Internet. Contrary to myth Copyright is still enforceable legally on the Internet. It's in the main currently impractical to do so. More next issue.

How many?

By the beginning of '97 connections to the Internet will reach between 30 and 34.6 million users according to International Data Corp. By 2000 the number of users will reach 163 million. The majority will connect through PCs, TVS, video games and specialised devices. By 2000 devices will surpass 233 million and PC's will not be the main means of access

Purses out

According to a new report by Jupiter Communications the 13.5 m (37 % of users) women on-line will spend $US368 million in 1996. By 2000 the estimated 43.3m women (47% of users) on line will spend $3.5 billion.

THE NUTS AND BOLTS

Who needs a PC?

SmartTime Internet Service is providing by telephone/ Internet an array information services. Includes unlimited e-mail, text messages to alphanumeric pagers directly from a phone keyboard; electronic phone directory assistance and addresses of almost 125 million households & businesses in the USA.; remote backup and retrieval of a name, number and address personal directory; stock quotes, sports scores, five-day forecasts for 1,200 cities, lottery results & daily horoscopes.

Yes Virginia it's slow.

Bell Canada is installing Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line in a suburb of Ottawa. ADSL transfers data at rates of 2 million bits per second (Mbps). Bell Canada estimates that ADSL will reach speeds of 6 Mbps by the end of 1996 and 52 Mbps in 1997. At 2Mbps ADSL will download a 1 Meg file in 17 seconds. At 6Mbps 1/10th of a second.

SNIPPETS

Where's the Money - more stats.

Business and professional services are the real Internet earners with the consumer market catching up. Totalling US$17.7 billion in 1996 on-line services revenue will reach US$30.9 billion by 2000 according to Simba Information Business/professional on-line services generated 93.2% of total industry revenue in 1996. Simba divides the business/professional market into seven market segments: brokerage, credit, financial news/research, legal, tax and public records, marketing, professional research and vertical market services

The biggest lit'le book store in the world.

Jeff Bezos owner of Amazon the world biggest book store on why he chose to leave Wall Street and sell books on the Internet. "Books have a very unusual characteristic; there are so many different books. That's totally different from any other product category. The number two product category is music. There are about 200,000 active music CDs in print at any given time. There are 1.5 million English-language books in print at any given time. If you take all languages world-wide, it's about 3 million books active and in print. So when you're talking about a large number of titles like that, that's where computers really start to shine because of their sorting and organising capabilities. There's no way to have a physical bookstore with 1.1 million titles, which we have on our site. No metropolitan area is large enough to economically support such a store. There's no way to have a printed paper catalogue like that, either. Our catalogue, if you were to print it, would be the size of seven New York City phone books. (Amazon has 1.1 million titles for sale.)

Intuit to connect package to the Internet

Quicken (12m users) is to set to make the Internet it's main platform. "Our goal is to speed the adoption of electronic connections between individuals, small businesses and financial services providers" said Scott Cook, co-founder/chairman of Intuit. "Two years ago, our strategy was to offer a secure private network connection between our customers and financial services providers. Today, rapid advances in the safety and reliability of the Internet -- as well as its phenomenal acceptance by individuals, small businesses and financial services providers - make the Internet the central focus of our overall connectivity and business strategy."

The widows mite

Ever thought how the Internet will sell items that cost less than the cost of a credit transaction? Clickshare micropayment system, enables people to buy individual newspaper articles from major American Newspapers over the Internet for as little as 10, 25 or 50 American cents. buyers can get an email daily detailing from which sites they have purchased and the total cost as it will appear on their card statement.

QUOTE

The Internet is like a vast library with all the books on the floor - Gerry Mc Govern - www.nua.ie

COMMENT

The current state of the Internet is like the middle stages of the Oklahoma land rush. At the start of the commercial Internet in 1994 positions were staked out on main street and product lines rushed to market.

The first profits are beginning to show in a few company bottom lines and the question "should we take it seriously" has been answered.

The next phase will rest on the development of the new network and non PC devices. Business to business and business services are the booming industries because they are the most accessible by PC. The personal computer is a most frustrating and cumbersome means of Internet connection

The Network Computer now being released will be a step forward. But it will still have a keyboard. It will still be a single screen device for use by one person at a time.

The real Internet boom will come with the advent of the third phase of users, who will use Television and wireless voice control. (Phillips has put the first of their Internet capable televisions on sale last month).

"Collect my e-mail please", "log me on to MGM and select a musical" "get me anniversary shopping suggestions" "If there is money pay the bills if not order more beer"! "I need some good cake recipes". Connect all major marketing officers of the company.

These are not remote possibilities. This week January 15 IBM announced the $US100 dollar voice control PC product.

So maybe instead of a push-button paradise for on-line consumers the Internet will respond to your wants in a whisper.

Video conferences in Cyber Space.

When the global market finally gets wired, and there are optical fibre Internet connections in every city traders will be able to contact each other across the Internet with ease.

Video conferencing will then become a successful trade tool. Four or five people meeting face to face with a common purpose is a powerful opportunity for profitable exchange.

To be tied to time but not to place will be a most liberating experience. The potential for beneficial trade outcomes can only be imagined. Join a cotton club, sell your book rights, market your software or talk with cutlery to suppliers in Brazil Norway and Canton all in a morning. Cutting edge stuff.

How will these cyber conferences get organised, who will be the convenors and what will be the expected outcomes of traders bringing their wares to the electronic bazaar.

A few talented amateurs might seize the technology and start enterprises running trade video conferences. But the idea that the current intermediaries will cut out of the loop is a little naive. Trade commissioners, trading houses, conference organisers and trade fair managers have the personnel who know the trade associations, the connections. So the new role will fall more easily to them.

A cyber conference will be the result of a lot of preparation. It will mean combing the lists of contacts, foreign sellers and sending endless e-mail to trade directories.

A rare few video meetings may see completed contracts and strong business relationships formed. Many will be a waste of time. But compared to the alternative, long journeys and expense, it will be worth it.

It will not however be a full substitute for travel. The human need to shake hands, see the nods of approval as each element of a deal is laid out means that once contact is made tickets will be booked.

Will they ever replace the networking drinkies sessions and business cards become electronic tokens.

A whole new swathe of small firms will be enticed to overseas trade as cost barrier are dramatically lowered.

Cyber conferences will develop as the years go by. You may be able to wander from conference to conference seeking those with a mutual interest.

Cyber convenors will be like a movie stars Striving in the first few frames for creditability, character, seeking quick rapport, command of the medium, agreement on the agenda. They will need the tenacity and diplomacy of the best envoys.

The determining success factor will the formation of effective networks. What may be needed is the cyberspace equivalent of the street corner where enquiring business people can hang out and never let a chance go by. Or perhaps a note board, "rug seller wants to conference with rug buyers". It could get exciting and even profitable.

Speak softly - buy big sticks

The current state of the Internet is like the middle stages of the Oklahoma land rush. At the start of the commercial Internet in 1994 positions were staked out on main street and product lines rushed to market.

The first profits are beginning to show in a few company bottom lines and the question "should we take it seriously" has been answered.

The next phase will rest on the development of the new network and non PC devices. Business to business and business services are the booming industries because they are the most accessible by PC. The personal computer is a most frustrating and cumbersome means of Internet connection

The Network Computer now being released will be a step forward. But it will still have a keyboard. It will still be a single screen device for use by one person at a time.

The real Internet boom will come with the advent of the third phase of users, who will use Television and wireless voice control. (Phillips has put the first of their Internet capable televisions on sale last month).

"Collect my e-mail please", "log me on to MGM and select a musical" "get me anniversary shopping suggestions" "If there is money pay the bills if not order more beer"! "I need some good cake recipes". Connect all major marketing officers of the company.

These are not remote possibilities. This week January 15 IBM announced the $US100 dollar voice control PC product.

So maybe instead of a push-button paradise for on-line consumers the Internet will respond to your wants in a whisper.