One Year Ago: Trends and Predictions for 2000

Originally published on December 20, 1999 and brought to you today as a time capsule.

With less than two weeks left until the next century, it seems like a good time to speculate about some e-commerce trends and offer some predictions.

One notable development this year was the advent of free Internet access. Companies such as the UK’s Freeserve Plc, a subsidiary of electronics retailer Dixons Plc, began giving away what American Online and Microsoft were charging for. As a result, American companies also began offering free Internet access to British users.

While this trend has yet to break out in the U.S., look for Microsoft and AOL to offer some sort of free online access to U.S. users next year.

Mainstreaming Linux

The tremendous IPO success of both Red Hat and VA Linux Systems all but assures an exciting 2000 for the “other” operating system.

While Linux lovers never hesitate to remind me that the Linux operating system is already mainstream in their eyes, I think that this year will see it become mainstream in the true sense of the word.

Linux will, I believe, take off as a strong alternative to Windows 2000, especially in the power-user segment of the consumer market.

Wireless World

I also see 2000 being the year that U.S. consumers embrace wireless devices as the dominant e-commerce platform, following in the footsteps of the Italians.

For instance, Italy’s largest mobile phone company, Telecom Italia Mobile SpA, forecasts that 21 percent of Italians will be using the Internet via portable devices by 2001.

Count on Americans surpassing that figure sometime next year.

Broadband Breakthrough

While AT&T recently said that it will open up access to its broadband assets, I expect that there will be technological breakthroughs next year that will make this issue much less significant.

In addition, I predict that AOL will add the broadband capacity it so badly needs by acquiring several companies early next year.

Taxes Ahead

Even though I hate to say it, my gut tells me that before the end of 2000, e-commerce will have exploded so much that it will not be a question of whether government will tax e-commerce, but simply a question of how much.

Nonetheless, I also believe that this taxation will cause such a groundswell of protest that many politicians who support the tax will be thrown out of office. As a result, e-commerce will be the defining issue in the 2000 American presidential campaign.

Beat Goes On

Sadly, I also predict that the Microsoft antitrust case will not be resolved in the new year and will continue to keep grinding on. This situation will continue to hurt the number one software maker and could eventually be its undoing.

Look for all the companies that held off spending money on upgrading their computer systems because of Y2K to begin upgrading them next year, thereby pushing firms such as Oracle and SAP into the stratosphere.

Finally, by this time next year, e-commerce will have already driven many of its brick-and-mortar rivals out of business. Those still standing will be the ones that formed strong alliances with their online counterparts.

What are some of your predictions? Let’s talk about it.

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