Sunday, December 26, 1999

Broad Strokes for all folks

Well 1999 was an exceptional year in many ways. It was a year where we saw some of the major buzzwords go from trendy to reality, especially in ecommerce. Consider that over $6 billion was spent in ecommerce just this Holiday season alone, and that there are over 5.6 billion users on eBay and nearly 3 million households trading online, there is some significant buying, selling and investing occurring online. 

I spoke about these points this past Sunday night, December 26th, on CNN in my role as contributing editor to Yahoo! Internet Life magazine. I explained to host Angela Hall about some significant events and evolutions that occurred on the 'Net last year. The music industry was revolutionized with the development of MP3 technology allowing musicians to release and distribute their songs online and for fans to be able to download them to their computers and personal players on demand. The film industry woke up to the power of the Internet with the success of The Blair Witch Project, which was marketed and promoted online. Even the healthcare industry is embracing the 'Net with online surgeries, a plethora of healthcare information sites and the ability to purchase prescriptions online.

Our favorite buzzword du jour "broadband" also received a significant spike in interest with Victoria Secret's heralded Web cast to over 1.5 million viewers and will continue to remain a major trend for 'Netnauts and non alike. 

Continuing in the trend vein, next year will also bring the promise of high speed access for average users not just gear-heads in wired towns via either cable modem or high speed phone lines. A result of all this high speed access will bring better and more interactive rich media content and more streaming media. 

Another major buzzword that's having, and will continue to have, its day is good ol' "wireless" technology. Fortunately, I see a world where this is already becoming a reality and where the States will be able to (hopefully) catch up. Business travelers will go from being able to hypothetically call in from the car, beach or hotel to truly being able to access the Internet without three degrees in computer science and a small tool chest. 

 People will continue to use the 'Net as a business, commercial, service and entertainment source. However the usage will transform from it being considered a third party, clunky separate entity to becoming more streamlined, intuitive and informative. Hardware, software and Web sites will all work together a bit better and a bit more intuitively. People will continue to use the 'Net for things that will ease their lives: booking travel, buying groceries, purchasing gifts and other items, trading stocks and banking. With better, personalized and customized Web sites, people will be able to have personalized services they trust with the added convenience regardless of the nine to five work week. 

* Special thanks to Mary Dawne Arden for assistance in preparation for the appearance.