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Infoseek Chief Says Bandwidth Will Change Everything

Infoseek President and Chief Executive Officer Harry Motro predicted Thursday the growing proliferation of high-speed Internet access will forever change the way companies with an Internet presence market to their customers.

Speaking at Summer Internet World 99, Motro said increased bandwidth will give Internet companies new ways to develop innovative marketing solutions for different segments of their customer base.

"Right now, all the portals and most of the successful sites are programming to the lowest common denominator since most are still on a 28.8 modem. When we have expanded bandwidth, the character and personality will come into sites and you will see differentiation," he said.

Motro said over the next four to five years, when close to half of U.S. Internet users are on broadband connections, static Web pages with only text and data will give way to content that includes linear video and a wide array of interactive features. That transformation will give companies many new ways to market goods and services to Internet users.

"When you can go turn the television into interactive text and data, a couch potato becomes a hot potato," he said.

He also did his part to debunk the belief that companies who give away content and services on the Internet can't make money. The key is to look at content as a way to drive a variety of e-commerce relationships.

"The more you give away, the more money you make. The reason is the cost to grow (an Internet) business are so much lower that you can make money on transactions."

He also looks for the concept of content to change.

"Merchants and advertisers are producing content, not just editors. We you search on camera and you see camera ads, it becomes content and they're paying you for it. User-generated content is the future of the Internet. Our job is to take those areas of content and integrate them in ways that are surprising."

Motro also encouraged attendees to carefully survey the competitive landscape in which they operate.

"Don't be afraid to get into businesses that you're not in today. The cost of expansion is dramatically less on the Internet and that helps you grow. The bigger you are, the more information you have which will help you create a better site."

As new users are coming on to the Internet, Motro said their expectations are increasingly growing. That makes it necessary for companies who look to succeed on the Internet to have a Web presence that is functional and effective.

Another group that will play an increasing role in the Internet, Motro said, are children and women. Those two groups represent a growing number of new Internet users and are driving innovations in electronic commerce and entertainment, he said.

International growth will also play key roles since areas such as Western Europe are adding Internet users at a faster rate than the United States. One thing that is clear, Motro said, is having an identifiable brand will be more important as companies go abroad.

For its part, Infoseek is already moving in that direction. On July 12, Walt Disney Co. announced it was merging its Buena Vista Internet Group with Infoseek and will expand its ownership in Infoseek to 72 percent. Motro has already announced he will leave Infoseek shortly after the deal closes, expected in December.

Although most of the portals closely resemble each other in design and function today, Motro said that will change as the role of portals morphs.

"The job of portals is to control the desktop of the networked PC. That's why Microsoft is so interested in what's going on in this space."