The Latest News from Webville

Tom Snyder photo by Tom Snyder on May 17, 1998

From deep in the Trivera archives, this blog was originally published in 1998 before blogs even had a name!

If you’re reading my Websight Insight posts, it’s probably because you’re already taking advantage of the power of the Internet. For you, it’s a “given” that, to be serious about doing business, you simply must establish and maintain a Web presence.

But, you’d be amazed at the excuses we hear on a daily basis from business owners and managers who have no intention of ever being on the Web. To you and I, that is almost as ludicrous as the person who says, “TV? No.. that’s just a fad” (remember, it was Western Union who originally stated that the telephone had far too many shortcomings to ever be seriously considered as a means of communication).

We know you don’t need any convincing, but we also know that you probably come in contact with other business people who may still be laboring under misconceptions about the Web. And because we also pay our clients and partners finders’ fees for any new business they bring us, we know it’s in our best interests to keep you armed with facts.

So here’s the latest news from Webville:

Current Population?

Accused by some of being a “niche market,” this niche is now more than 100 million people worldwide (40 million in the US alone). Traffic on the Internet is now doubling every 100 days.

And just so you don’t get the idea that they’re all broke college students or teenagers, a recent Harris Poll found that 42 percent of them make over $50,000 per year and roughly half have at least some college education or an advanced degree.

As far as the number of businesses on the Web, if you’re not on yet, the train’s leaving the station without you! As of December 1996, about 627,000 Internet domain names had been registered. By the end of 1997, the number of domain names more than doubled to reach 1.5 million.

What is it doing to traditional media?

People are spending more time on the Web. That means they’re spending LESS time doing other things. Although 45% are sleeping less to surf the Web, the largest loser in the battle for quality time is TV. Large percentages of those who classify themselves as heavy users of the Web say that the time they spend in front of their monitors used to be spent in front the TV screen (76% from on-air and cable, and 60% from video rentals).

Is anybody making money on the Web?

Let’s first talk specifics:

Dell Computer sells $2 million of hardware a day on its Web site (That’s up from a paltry $1 million per day a year ago). The company reported reaching daily sales of $6 million several times during the December 1997 holiday period.

The Net version of the Wall Street Journal has signed up over 100,000 paying customers.

Cisco Systems closed 1997 with its Internet sales running at a $3.2 billion annual rate.

In 1997,, the first Internet bookstore, sold $148 million worth of books to Internet customers. (Barnes and Noble, who got caught flat-footed, is frantically scrambling to catch up – a lesson to anyone who isn’t on the Web yet!)

As of the end of November 1997, Auto-by-Tel, a Web-based automotive marketplace, was generating $500 million a month in auto sales ($6 billion annualized) and processed over 100,000 purchase requests each month.

How about general statistics:

Estimates from market research firms say that in 1997, online shopping generated between $2.5 and $5 Billion. That doesn’t even take into account the indirect sales that came from people who didn’t order from the Web, but ordered from catalogs they requested from the Web (Usinger’s reported almost twice as many catalog requests as the number of actual online orders during the 1997 holiday season).

Experts predict anywhere from $16 to $59 Billion in online sales in the year 2001. ActivMedia projects Web sales will hit $1 trillion that same year.

So there you have it. If you’re on the Web, you’re in the right place at the right time. If you’re not, what are you waiting for?

Share this article