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TBTF for 1995-05-02: Buying software from the Net; Lojack for computers

Keith Dawson (dawson@atria.com)
Tue, 2 May 1995 13:09:32 -0400

>>From Innovation:

Electronic commerce generated $200 million last year -- a mere rounding
error when compared to the $1.2 trillion in overall U.S. retail sales -- but
Forrester Research Inc. predicts that by 1998, the Internet will become a
"viable consumer medium." However, even though a Web site
eliminates the printing, mailing and personnel expenses of a mail-order
operation, many current merchandisers will be reluctant to pass those
savings on to consumers because they don't want to undermine sales at their
existing brick-and-mortar stores and mail-order businesses. Only when new
businesses decide to use the Internet as a virtual wholesale price club will
electronic commerce really take off, says a Forrester analyst. (Investor's
Business Daily 1995-04-18 A8)

[So, we'll all be buying by 1998. What will we be buying?]

For the ultimate in impulse buys, consumers in the market for software now
can order it online and download it instantaneously. CyberSource operates a
Web site that markets Norton Utilities and a handful of other titles, and is
working to recruit other products. The company's biggest customers now are
businesses with high-speed data lines, but its president thinks all that
will soon change: "This is currently out of reach for the average home
user, but if you believe what they say about ISDN and cable delivery, all
this will be possible in just a few years. For a software publisher there
is no manufacturing cost, no cost of goods sold, reduced distribution cost
and instant registration of the product. And the consumer gets instant
gratification." <http://software.net> (Forbes 1995-05-08 p.138)

[You can buy TIA from <URL:http://www.marketplace.com/>; this software
has been available for purchase via Web, FTP, or gopher since August 1994.
TIA is The Internet Adaptor, which turns a shell account into a SLIP ac-
count. A perfect kind of software to sell over the net. At $25 it's prac-
tically an impluse buy.

[Over the weekend I signed up for two for-pay net services. One is Infoseek
and the other is CDnow!, a music purveyor. Both offer secure ways to convey
credit-card info, which I consider essential -- Infoseek by automated phone
transaction and CDnow! by Netscape encrypted transaction.]

One of the exotic technologies that could replace magnetic storage is a
swamp bacterium called Halobacterium found in the brackish lagoons around
San Francisco Bay. Laser beams focused on the photosenitive protein
in Halobacterium could create a fast, matchbox-sized optical storage device
that could store 480 gigabytes, which is more than 1,000 times larger than
today's typical PC hard disk drive. Early practical demonstrations of the
technology might appear by about the year 2000. (Financial Times 1995-04-20 p.12)

[Talk about being swamped in data...]

Absolute Software's CompuTrace system keeps an eye on your computer even
when you can't. Once a week, the system turns off the modem speaker and
silently makes a call to Absolute's monitoring facility. If the computer's
not hooked up to a phone line, or the line is busy, the software knows to
wait until it has a clear line to make the call. If everything's okay, the
computer hangs up and waits another week, but if your computer has been
reported stolen, its location is traced by phone and authorities are
contacted. Many insurance companies offer a discount to CompuTrace users,
and if your computer is stolen and not recovered in four months, Absolute
pays up to $200 toward the insurance deductible. For more information,
phone 800-220-0733. (St. Petersburg Times 1995-04-24 p.14)

[This thing would creep me out even if I was the legitimate owner of the
PC. Imagine how it would make the perpetrator feel.]

Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com dawson@atria.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.