eCommerce ResourcesECnow.com Speaking

Internet Marketing




1999 E-Commerce Recap

ECMgt.com brought to you by ECnow.com
Your Link to Worldwide eCommerce Developments
December 1, 1999 *2,800 subscribers* Volume 1, Issue 11
ECMgt.com Online:
View this Issue:
Print this Issue:

ECnow.com 1999 trends: Reflection on the e-commerce activities / events / developments of 1999 and how ECnow.com did on it's predictions for the year


1999 - The Year of the Penguin

by Hans Cathcart
President of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Association of Internet Professionals
Internet and Linux consultant for RealStrategy.com
November 30, 1999


It has come to dominate the American cultural landscape, fascinating, intriguing and addicting all who cross its path. A phenomenon so powerful, so sudden, that only the true insiders could have predicted this craze. But even now, as millions of adults will open their e-wallets this holiday season and buy a selection of products from this one brand, every single parent is asking themselves: "What's the deal with Pokémon?"

For the educated, I'm referring, of course, to the seven and eight year-olds, it's completely apparent: "My Pikachu can easily win against your Clefairy, even if your Raichu is an evolved Pokémon ... Dad!" And so it goes: the kids understand everything, the parents are confused, and the green-backs are on-route to the Pokémon empire.


Quite frankly, this must be the way most people feel about the E-industries and dot.com corporations that are today transforming America's economic landscape. Most of us, however, are as attuned to today's e-commerce trends as our kids are to the intricacies of the Pokémon card game. In essence, there is very little difference between our focus on e-commerce, our kids' attention on Pokémon, and the technical world's fascination with, say, Linux.

Linux is, of course, the open-source operating system that is poised to challenge the great Microsoft monopoly in the coming years for dominance of the server and desktop operating system market.

What does Linux have to do with e-commerce?

Well, Mitchell Levy asked me to share, with you, my views on the apparent rapid rise of Linux during 1999. Mitchell didn't predict Linux as a top trend in last years' "Top-10 e-commerce Predictions for 1999." "I told you so," could have been my response, but I don't think Mitchell missed Linux at all.

Linux has about as much relevance to e-commerce as Pokémon. Mind you that this holiday season will probably see the Pokémon brand as one of the most purchased brands over the web. Similarly, Linux and other open-source software products, such as the successful Apache Web server, will probably be the corner-stone of over 50 percent of all e-commerce transactions on the web this winter. But, fundamentally they are only tools to make e-commerce happen.

Open Source software, of which Linux and Apache are both children, is a type of software-license. It is often referred to as a 'copyleft' since the source code or computer instructions of any Open Source software product must always be made freely available along with the right for any person to improve, modify or change the product freely.

This idea, combined with the possibilities of the Internet, has sparked a flame in the software development community, and is now spreading into all adjoining industries such as e-commerce. Open Source software, has, for instance, allowed many e-commerce businesses to cheaply build and operate extensive e-commerce web sites, which has inevitably reduced product prices. What this shows is that the fate and future of a particular industry, such as our favorite 'e' depends to a great deal on trends and developments in areas seemingly unrelated.

Mitchell didn't see Linux because he wasn't looking at the geeky UNIX developer world. Parents didn't see Pokémon coming because they didn't pay attention to the Japanese entertainment market. Many years ago, Microsoft didn't think the Internet was important.

As with all predictions, they look better with 20/20 hindsight, so I will end with some thoughts I wrote down a year ago ... my predictions for 1999, if you will:

  • "1998 was a great year for Linux, and in 1999 Linux will, no doubt, continue to conquer the world. ... In 1999 Linux evangelists will begin to be able to recommend Linux to their non-technical friends without worries, and we're all going to feel nice, warm and happy, because most of us will hook up to Cable-modems or xDSL systems. Bye, bye slow modems.
  • "However, in 1999 we will begin to see the first strains in the Linux movement. Similar to what happened to the Web, Linux's success is going to spawn divisions. Primarily, many of the companies that are venturing to make money from Linux are going to succeed, and we will see an ever increasing corporate presence in the Linux world. IBM will, no doubt, play a big role. ...
  • "The strains we will see won't be serious, because the community will be brought back together by the movements of the big whale. I'm reminded of the children's story of the swarm of fish that scared the big fish by coming together and forming into the shape of a big fish. All the little Linux fishes came together this year and scared the big Microsoft whale. If Microsoft is harpooned by the Justice Department the whale will cause a tremendous amount of disturbance in the sea. Regardless of the anti-trust action outcome Microsoft will make a big splash by promoting Windows 2000 to death. The promises Microsoft will make, Linux will deliver. Whether or not the managers in IT departments will wake up and smell the Linux breeze is the big question.
  • "The next two years will decide if Linux will truly challenge Microsoft or just be a major irritant."


Copyright © 1999-2009 by ECnow.com, Inc., All rights reserved
ECnow.com (
21265 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 205
Cupertino, CA 95014


Back to the main ECMgt.com Site: (http://ECMgt.com)
Back to this issue: (




Home | Express Your View | eZine Signup | About ECMgt.com
eCommerce Resources | eCommerce Examples | Internet Marketing Tactics
ECMgt.com is produced by ECnow.com (http://ecnow.com)
408-257-3000 (Phone)
E-mail: General (VMS3.Executive.Producer@ecnow.com), Webmaster (webmaster@ecnow.com)
Copyright © 1999-2009 by ECnow.com, Inc., All rights reserved