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TBTF for 1996-10-20: Blind chihuahua

Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Sun, 20 Oct 1996 20:19:17 -0400


Whither Netscape?

The Navigator browser, king of the hill since its introduction in 1994, is losing ground at a gallop to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Interse Corp.'s browser trends page [1] tells the dramatic story; here are some of the recent figures from visits to the Interse site.

   Month      Navigator    Explorer

   Sep 96       52.3%        39.1%
   Aug 96       62.7%        29.1%
   Jul 96       72.6%        15.8%
   Jun 96       78.2%         8.3%
   May 96       83.2%         7.0%
Microsoft has sewn up deals with the Big Three online services -- Prodigy fell to the Redmond forces last week. The week before that AT&T, following MCI's lead, declared MSIE the "preferred" browser for its WorldNet service; and Sprint is rumored to be next in line to adopt MSIE.

On the surface it looks like the browser wars are over and Netscape lost. But these recent Microsoft wins impact the consumer Internet, not the far larger and more lucrative intranet market. On 10/15 Netscape made a major strategy announcement [2] -- henceforth it will concentrate on the enterprise intranet and will seek to "embrace and integrate" Microsoft technology. The phrase deliberately echoes Microsoft's "embrace and extend" mantra. In another jab at Microsoft Marc Andreesen said "We are very hard-core about... fitting into our customers' legacy systems," mimicking Bill Gates's declaration of last December. Netscape's new browser technology, Navigator 4.0, will not even be available in a standalone configuration suitable for consumers. It will be bundled in an integrated package called Netscape Communicator, along with Messenger (email), Composer (HTML authoring), Collabra (group discussion), and Conference (real-time collaboration). But wait, there's more: Netscape will also offer Communicator Professional Edition with a group calendaring client. And Communicator will support Microsoft standards ActiveX, COM, OLE and will integrate with BackOffice and Office. And Netscape's Suite Spot server technology, enhanced with Collabra's groupware engines, will be positioned -- and priced aggressively -- directly against Lotus Notes and Microsoft BackOffice.

[1] <http://www.interse.com/webtrends/>
[2] <http://home.netscape.com/newsref/pr/newsrelease267.html>


Taking ITAR to court in Cleveland

Another lawsuit has been filed challenging the constitutionality of the ITAR restrictions on exporting cryptographic software. Peter Junger, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, argues [3] that he can't even discuss the legality of ITAR in the presence of non-US students as the law is written. The government argues that the professor must apply, under ITAR, for permission to speak before he can challenge the requirement that he apply for such permission. This new challenge joins the two-year-old Bernstein case; see TBTF for 1996-04-21 [4] for recent developments.

[3] <http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~cudigest/CUDS8/cud870>
[4] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-04-21.html>


A heavyweight newsletter on electronic commerce

E.Commerce Today is published weekly by Robert Vinet <vnetwork at nbnet dot nb dot ca> of V-Networks, Inc. in New Brunswick, Canada. See [5] for complete subscription information. In summary E.CT is aimed at a serious audience such as banking executives, government officials, and industry professionals. It's a weighty tome -- my first trial issue arrived in nine files, 141 KB, conducive all by itself of Information Fatigue Syndrome [6] -- at a weighty price, $245 U.S. per year. For any of you whose success demands comprehensive and timely information on the moves and maneuverings of the players in electronic commerce, I recommend giving this newsletter a look.

[5] <http://www.tbtf.com/resource/e.commerce-today.txt>
[6] <http://cnnfn.com/digitaljam/wires/9610/14/info_overload_wg/>


Exploring the elephant

How fast is the market for E-commerce likely to grow? Opinions vary wildly -- so much so that, without scrutinizing the assumptions in the two studies cited below, I'm convinced that their authors must have begun from differing definitions of electronic commerce.

Let's start with a stake in the ground, data from a recent issue of the Economist [7]: online sales of goods and services in 1995 amounted to $518 million.

For a conservative projection to the year 2000, consider a 12/95 Hambricht & Quist study (not itself available online) that is referenced in I.Pro's useful CyberAtlas [8]: it predicts a worldwide Internet market of $23 billion by century's end. Of this, $10 billion is accounted for by online content and activity, including goods and services bought online.

A radically more optimistic view, of a market 60 times larger, is advanced in a recent study by Killen & Associates.

>>From the TechKnow Times (1996-10-11):

> A Killen & Associates study points to a $98 billion market for
> electronic-commerce services by 2000. Revenue producers will
> include network information services, electronic commerce sup-
> port services, and transaction and payment services. According
> to the report, 7.5% of all purchases will be made over the
> Internet. "That is roughly $600 billion worth of goods and
> services," says director Karl Duffy, "Financial institutions
> will execute 7 billion electronic transactions worth $10.5
> billion in transactions fees alone."

Reaching H&Q's market of $10 billion implies a compound annual growth rate of 82%, which is large but not historically unheard-of. To get to the K&A prediction of $600 billion requires a growth rate of 550%. That's not a market, that's a bubble.

Note added 1996-11-22: Came across the following handy table on c|net -- I added the compound annual growth rates.

   Analyst                  1996       2000       CAGR
                            ($M)       ($M)       (%)

   Forrester Research        518       7,100      68.8%
   Link/IDC                  350       6,000      76.6%
   Jupiter Communications  1,246       7,300      42.3%

Perhaps the only way to see the E-commerce beast whole is to play the game of blind men and elephant, rather as TBTF does weekly. To this end I invite you to visit this academic site [9] and this commercial one [10] -- both excellent starting points for exploring the elephant.

[7] <http://www.systemics.com/docs/articles/econ_home_shopping.html>
[8] <http://www.cyberatlas.com/market.html>
[9] <http://www.brint.com/Elecomm.htm>
[10] <http://www.computerworld.com/emmerce/>


Yet another new paradigm for delivering Web content

The time is ripe for introducing new paradigms: last week Marimba, this week Intermind. Perhaps the companies are studying under the same Feng Shui master [11].

Marimba's Castanet, covered in TBTF for 1996-10-09 [12], operates on a "push" model: when the server has new material for you, it comes to your client, if you're online. Intermind's new Communicator technology takes a "pull" approach: you sign up for the material you want and your client watches to see when it changes and fetches it for you. In effect Communicator delivers Web content in a manner similar to email.

The 1996-10-15 issue of TidBITS [13], a widely circulated Macintosh newsletter, features a review of Intermind Communicator. I find this significant primarily because Communicator isn't available on the Macintosh and won't be for three months; but TidBITS editor Adam Engst feels strongly enough that Communicator is significant technology that he has made an early commitment to publish TidBITS via "hyperconnector." Engst describes the concept this way:

> Intermind Communicator makes it easy for everyone to get just the
> information they want from the Web, without repetitive searching,
> without bookmarking, and without sacrificing personal privacy. It
> also makes it possible for anyone to publish information on the Web
> that is delivered automatically to everyone else who wants to
> receive it, customized to each person's individual interests.

Another difference between Connector and Marimba's Castanet is that Intermind is offering more of the package for free [14]. Client software will be available free from both companies, but Intermind will also offer a way for individuals to publish content without cost. They hope to make money on commercial users of Connector and in the intranet market.

[11] <http://plaza.interport.net/pymetaphysics/concepts.htm>
[12] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-10-09.html>
[13] <http://www.tidbits.com/tb-issues/TidBITS-349.html#lnk5>
[14] <http://www.intermind.com/prod_demo/index.html>


A pornagraphy safety net is floated in the UK

On 9/23 two British Internet associations released a proposal they call the R3 Safety-Net: Rating, Reporting and Responsibility [15]. British government backs the proposal, as do police associations. However, the minister quoted on the Department of Trade and Industry page [16], Ian Taylor, expressed some doubts the next day in the hearing of a reporter from the Telegraph [17]. Demon Internet, the largest ISP in Britain, supports the R3 proposal (contrary to my assertion in this newsletter when it was emailed; thanks to Irene Graham <rene at pobox dot com> for the correction). For a good airing of some of the arguments against R3 see Graham's posting at [18].

[15] <http://dtiinfo1.dti.gov.uk/safety-net/r3.htm>
[16] <http://dtiinfo1.dti.gov.uk/safety-net/index.html>
[17] <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et/access?ac=136401001297&pg=/96/9/24/nnet24.html>
[18] <http://www.pobox.com/~rene/liberty/SafeNet.html>


Blind chihuahua

Followup: Religion on the Web, TBTF for 1996-09-08 [19]

Please indulge me, I couldn't resist this site's splash screen. If you are sensitive on subjects religious perhaps it's best not to visit. For the rest of you, The Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua [20] is

> a sacred place in cyberspace named in honor of a little old dog with
> cataracts, who barked sideways at strangers, because he couldn't see
> where they were. We humans relate to God in the same way, making a
> more or less joyful noise in God's general direction, and expecting a
> reward for doing so.

[19] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-09-08.html>
[20] <http://www.hooked.net/users/jahf/>


>>E.Commerce Today -- this commercial publication provided background information for some of the pieces in this issue of TBTF. For complete subscription information see <http://www.tbtf.com/resource/e.commerce-today.txt>.

>>TechKnow Times -- mail techknow-request@techknowtimes.com with subject: subscribe . Web site at <http://www.TechKnowTimes.com/>.

TBTF alerts you weekly to bellwethers in computer and communications tech-
nology, with special attention to commerce on the Internet. See the ar-
chive at <http://www.tbtf.com/>. To subscribe send the message "subscribe"
to tbtf-request@world.std.com. TBTF is Copyright 1996 by Keith Dawson,
<dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com>. Commercial use prohibited. For non-commercial
purposes please forward and post as you see fit.
Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com dawson@pureatria.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.