Spring Computer Trade Show Focuses on Business Side of Internet Commerce

Article excerpt

CHICAGO (AP) -- You may Yahoo and you might be amazed with Amazon.com's bargains, but the biggest business on the Internet today is business itself.

While Web sites aimed at consumers have gotten the attention over the past few years, online business-to-business transactions known as B2B are the fastest-growing part of e-commerce, sure to overshadow gizmos and gadgets at the Comdex computer trade show that begins in Chicago on Sunday.

"Now that it's been shown with companies like Amazon.com that we can conduct stable and secure transactions online, we're just at the edge of what is really going to happen with business-to-business," said Jon Jerome, a B2B analyst at the Yankee Group.

B2B transactions represent more than 80 percent of Internet commerce, and will soar from $237 billion this year to $2.8 trillion by 2004, according to the Gartner Group. Purchases by consumers will bring in just a fraction of those numbers, the high-tech research firm predicts.

Such transactions include direct purchases, auctions and bartering, often through electronic alliances or buying consortiums.

Although many see B2B as the real future of the Internet, there are questions on Wall Street and in Congress about the growing industry.

In recent weeks, the stocks of some companies specializing in B2B services, such as Ariba and Commerce One, have tumbled along with other high-tech and Internet issues. …