|It's a mistake in perception when analysts claim that the markets have "cooled" on technology ventures. The truth is that the markets, and many venture capitalists (VC), have cooled on dot.com retailers. What's happening is the inevitable shake-out. Lots of dot.com retailers are going to fold their tents this year, In My Humble Opinion, because they expected too much from the start... or because their customers will see that they can't stand and deliver and were full of hot air.
Boo.com has already become part of that historical development, and I predict that bally-hooed dot.coms like iVillage will follow in their footsteps.
Too many Young Turks with a "cool" idea were unwilling to admit that the infrastructure of the Internet, bandwidth, fulfillment systems, accessibility, was not up to the game. So now the markets are forcing some re-evaluations, some business closures, and making the necessary corrections.
My prediction: the VC money and the markets will remain hot for those companies meeting this infrastructure challenge. Cisco Systems will continue to do just fine. So will Intel. Sun Microsystems will be able to continue to claim, grandiosely, that they put the dot in dot.com. The Big Winners of this next round of Internet expansion will be the infrastructure companies dealing with ways to make the Internet faster, more responsive, more available to more people in more ways --- from handhelds to set-top boxes.
"These are the days of lasers in the jungle somewhere..." --- Paul Simon
"Lots of Internet retailers are destined to disappear this year..."
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|Perhaps it is not so much that e-commerce died, upon reflection, as that the Internet was meant to be a communications medium. Our prime motivation for coming to the Internet is to e-mail our friends and relatives, to find information (which includes some forms of entertainment,) and after that we might just buy something. That's why I think the dot.com era was over-valuated, over-hyped, and is approaching its end as a dominating force here.
In fact, I would place myself among those who believe that the most exciting developments for the Internet over the next decade will be in areas like the set-top box for consumers, the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP,) access to geosynchronous satellites for communications and navigation, and any other means by which people can gain the informational advantages of the Internet without being tied to a stationary desktop PC.
IMHO, that's where Larry Ellison has gotten part of the picture right. But he's still too tied to the central server model.
Apple Computer, always an innovator, has gotten it right with its AirPort technology. That's the direction that Internet access, and computing in general, is going. With AirPort, you can establish a wireless Internet-accessible network in your home in minutes. Whether or not we agree with Apple's insistance on keeping its technology proprietary, we have to concede that keeping it easy is the key to their phenomenal success. And now they have a wireless mouse, too.
By focusing on the issues of access and user-friendliness, Apple is staying ahead of the curve.
|In an article Rod Amis wrote for Andover News in January of this year, he said: "Who's winning in the New Gold Rush? Let me put it this way: in the California Gold Rush of 1849 the Big Money was made by whore houses; saloons; general stores selling pickaxes, shovels, pans, and grub; grifters of every stripe from gamblers to claim-jumpers to deed forgers; and monopolistic railroad companies.
"I have said this before, but I'll say it again: The most amazing thing about the state of the Web right now is that NOT THAT MUCH has changed in a year's time. As The Suits move in, the explosiveness of the Web is being slowed to a crawl. I can remember when things changed DRAMATICALLY every three months. No longer..."
I chuckled upon reading Mr. Amis's always insightful remarks, knowing that this dot.com shakeout was about to occur. The NASDAQ was flying too high at the time. I sent him an e-mail reminding him that he should have added Levi Strauss making his fortune during that Gold Rush by selling durable denim pants.
Today, I believe, the evidence is there that many of "the Suits" will be leaving the Internet and the Web to make way for the advance of those companies and entrepreneurs building up its infrastructure. That's where the big money will go.
So the Gold Rush will repeat history and enrich those people supplying the prospectors rather than the prospectors themselves.
There's a lesson to be learned from this.
And the other thing that happened during that last Gold Rush was that the social and political landscape changed significantly. IMHO, that will occur here on the Internet, too.
TAKE THE RISK OF INVOLVEMENT.
or make it.
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