Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Suddenly, the Dot Com Revival Starts to Click

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Suddenly, the Dot Com Revival Starts to Click

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BOWEN

THE INTERNET bandwagon that was scheduled to arrive three years ago is finally due to pull in. Apologies for the delay, partly caused by an unfortunate crash in 2000.

And don't be surprised if you don't recognise the bandwagon, because it will bear little resemblance to the shiny and exciting machine we once expected.

The touted $15 billion ([pounds sterling]10 billion) flotation of search engine Google is a sign the internet is rolling again.

Followers of the stock market will have already spotted as much - America's hitech Nasdaq stock market has risen by 40% in the past year (see graph, above right). Online bazaar eBay is worth $35 billion - 50% more than General Motors - while shares in British-based lastminute.com are finally worth more, in real terms, than they were when the company's float marked the last gasp of dot com mania in 2000.

Why should the internet revolution succeed now, when it did not before? It failed to change our lives, transform productivity or bring us little more than porn, paedophilia and promises of penis enlargement. But change has come from growth. "There are a lot of what appear to be small changes," says Paul Parker, e-commerce general manager for industrial products distributor RS Components.

"But collectively they are altering the competitive landscape."

The internet has a distinct set of abilities, and different combinations produce varying confections.

Pornography works because it exploits the internet's ability to display pictures, to hold lots of data, to allow people to search for them, to deliver them cheaply, to change them regularly and to take payment by credit card.

Stirring the ingredients another way, we find a different success story. RS Components grew mighty on its paperbased catalogue, selling electrical bits and pieces. But since it set up a website in 1998, the driver has been ecommerce. RS works so well online because it exploits the web's dataholding ability, its searchability and its payment systems - just as pornography does.

EBay lets people sell anything from carpets to crocodiles to each other, and it uses the web's strengths to the full. …

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