RealTime IT News

International Briefs

January 5

1998 Internet Predictions Vary
ActivMedia estimates that Web generated revenues will be worth $24 billion this year; Forrester Research projects a lower estimate of $2 billion.

ActivMedia data shows that the U.S. accounts for about 86 percent of revenues, Canada seven percent, Europe five percent and Asia 1.5 percent.

"We believe that the online retail market will grow from $2 billion in the value of goods sold during 1997, to more than $17 billion in 2001," said Forrester Research.

"As in the PC era, we believe the commercialization of the Internet across industries will represent net wealth creation of hundreds of billions of dollars globally, across several industries, over the next five to 10 years," Goldman Sach analysts predicted in a recent report.

(Reuters News Agency; January 2, December 31, 1997)

IDC's Internet Predictions For 1998
Market research group International Data Corporation predicts that by the end of 1998, 22.8 million U.S. households will be wired for the Net.

Sub-$1,000 PCs with fast modems will ensure that the Web world will still be PC-centered. But $500 WebTV set-top boxes will gain ground.

According to IDC Vice-President Anthony Picardi, the Internet has brought about a change in mindset.

"Managers can think through the whole process of getting a widget from concept to product, up to and including customer feedback. They can conceive of the supply chain, think out of the box, and get with their customers and partners," he said.

(Business Week; January 5, 1997)

ISP Market Continues To Heat Up
1997 was a good year for ISPs. According to a study by Maloff Group International, the ISP market has grown to nearly $8.4 billion, up from only $1.85 billion in April 1996.

The top business-oriented providers are IBM, WorldCom's UUnet, AT&T's Worldnet, and PSINet. IBM has climbed to the top of the business provider market by providing value-added Web hosting and content development services.

At the top of the consumer ISP food chain is America OnLine, which recently crossed the 10 million-subscriber mark in the U.S. in November, and the 1 million overseas subscribers mark.

(Wired News Service; January 1, 1997)

U.S. Internet Stores Find Growing Sales Overseas
In increasing numbers, people who live overseas are turning to U.S. Internet stores for their shopping needs.

Japan, South Korea, Germany and Britain are all hot markets for overseas online sales, U.S.-based online merchants say.

Booksellers Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com report that customers beyond the U.S. border account for about 25 per cent of their total sales. CDs are also popular products among overseas Net shoppers.

(Hong Kong Standard; January 1, 1997)

British Insurance Companies Venture Onto The Net
More than 100 insurers in Britain, selling everything from car cover to healthcare, have set up shop online.

But few allow insurance to be taken out electronically using a credit card--most simply offer quotes, with applications and payment by telephone. Eagle Star offers a 15 per cent discount on motor insurance through its site, and takes credit card payment. Halifax offers travel insurance online, also with credit card payments.

(Financial Times, Britain; December 31, 1997)

Thai Chapter Of ISOC Criticised For Proposing Internet Censorship
The Thailand Chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC), formed in 1996, is being criticised for proposing Internet censorship legislation which seeks to ban information concerning the King and the Royal Family, political issues which impact the nation's security, and pornography.

Critics include Internet Society Vice President Vinton Cerf, who said the proposed Internet Promotion Law "does not seem compatible with Internet Society principles."

These principles include open, unencumbered, beneficial use of the Internet with self-regulated content providers, Cerf said.

(Bangkok Post; December 31, 1997)

News Publishers Lead Move To Charge For Web Content
Online news publishers are leading the move to convert readers into paying subscribers.

They include Business Week, The Economist, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and San Jose Mercury News. Microsoft's Slate also plans to charge subscription fees.

While having a Web site has become almost essential for publishers, most continue to lose money despite online advertising. Some are therefore charging for access to current content; others charge for access to archived material.

(Financial Times, Britain; December 29, 1997)

Three Tiers Of Eligibility Norms Proposed For Indian ISPs
A task force on prospective ISP eligibility criteria in India, chaired by former Telecom Commission member D.N. Nanda, has recommended a three-tier eligibility structure for ISPs.

The proposed structure would feature separate sets of criteria for applicants seeking international connectivity, national connectivity and single point of presence.

The task force, constituted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), favours selection on the basis of technical and financial capability for national and regional operators, and free entry for single POP operations.

Among the benchmarks, the report has recommended a minimum annual turnover of Rs. 5 crore for computer companies and two-years experience for foreign companies in the operation of Internet services.

(Business Standard, India; December 27, 1997)

Jordanian ISP Offers Internet Access Service Via Satellite
Jordanian ISP Global One is offering Jordanian subscribers a one way Internet satellite down-link via Zaknet.

Global One, launched in March 1996, has a subscriber base of more than 5,000 users. It was formed via an alliance between France Telecom, Deutch Telekom and Sprint.

(The Star, Jordan; December 26, 1997)

Stakes Increase For Winning Online Market Share Through Advertising
The strategy for Web sites like Yahoo and Lycos has been to spend money to develop Web sites, build recognition among consumers, and battle for the dominant market share in the hopes of attracting users, advertisers and the revenues they generate.

A year ago, an Internet company could capture 40 percent of its market just by advertising in New York and San Francisco. Now capturing that same market share requires advertising in six cities, according to Joe Kraus, senior vice president and co-founder of Excite.

"I am a big believer in spending $1 million today, rather than $10 million five years from now," Kraus said.

(Dow Jones News Service; December 24, 1997)

Internet Gambling Booming In The Caribbean
The Caribbean is now witnessing a booming new industry: Internet casino gambling.

To the chagrin of U.S. legislators, this could become a billion-dollar industry by 2000.

"The Caribbean is a hotbed for gambling sites," closely followed by Central America, said Sue Schneider, editor of the gamblers' magazine Rolling Good Times Online.

The new Grand Dominican Resort & Casino reports thousands of hits a day from Internet betters within the first three months of operation.

The Internet's global scope complicates enforcement, however. Countries like Australia have reportedly considered ways to regulate and tax online gambling.

(Associated Press; December 16, 1997)

U.S. Department of Transportation Unveils Online Docket Management
The U.S. Department of Transportation's new Web site will offer information and searches on rule making, legal issues, and other regulatory matter.

The system is the first of its kind in the federal government, according to Vice President Al Gore.

"This is an excellent example of what President Clinton means by reinventing government," Gore said. "By making regulatory information available on the information superhighway, we are taking government directly to the people. Citizens can be better informed and play a better role in developing the federal rules that govern transportation activities."

(Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News; December 12, 1997)