Understanding Internet And Its Applications 

Internet is one of the fastest growing technologies, which offers a wide range of possibilities and opportunities for both the technologists and the investors.  At the beginning it was simply a medium for the technologist and academia. However, as soon as it was made available to the general public and commerce, it exploded to become the most dynamic and effective media for presentingideas, products and services.  Each day businesses find new ways toutilize and harness Internet capabilities for new income generating ideasand ventures.  Advertising, on-line shopping malls, Online banking, Online stock trading and real time information delivery are all examplesof viable ideas that have been implemented in this arena successfully. A close analysis of the Internet and the successful ventures that haveutilized it shows the majority of the services offered fall in one the following seven categories:  
 

1- Advertising Services  
  
Advertising on the Internet is a relatively new phenomenon, which is becoming popularat a fast rate.  Companies and product owners have realized Internet allows them to control and measure the return on their advertisement investment (ROI) more effectively and accurately than any other media.  Advertisingon the Internet allows them to target specific market segments and demographic that best meets their customer profile. For example, if an advertiser ispromoting long distance phone services to Far East, he places ads in sitesthat are frequently visited by people from that region.  These sites may be cultural or entertainment sites dedicated to Far East countries. Internet allows the advertiser to know exactly how many people are referred to his site via the site that hosts his ads and to calculate its advertising campaign effectiveness and ROI.  The effectiveness of this type of advertising has enticed more advertisers to utilize services offered by various Internet sites.  The revenue of the sites that host advertisingis directly proportional to the number of the visitors they receive. Various Internet sites offer the widest range of free services to lure new visitors.  Free chat service, free search engines and free homepages are all examples of these types of service. Sites such as Yahoo.com and Excite.com have been able to build their entire company based on the revenue generated from on-line advertising.  
  

2- Hosting Internet Web Sites  
  
This is one of the services offered by various Internet companies.  The services offered vary greatly depending on the experience of the company and theunderstanding of the recipient of the web site.  Today, almost allcompanies have realized the need for having an Internet presence. However, there are very few businesses that truly understand and know how to utilize the Internet to their advantage.  In-spite of that we are witnessing an unprecedented number of new sites created every day.  

  
3-Providing Internet Access  
  
This is a very competitive area.  It initially started with local Internetcompanies offering Internet Access to limited number of people.  In a short time companies like America Online (AOL) and EarthLink came along and offered superior services.  Offering Internet access with today's technology requires large investment of funds in hardware, software and technical support.  However, this is an area where the technologyis advancing at a fast paste. It is expected satellite based (radio frequency) systems will become the primary means for accessing Internet in the next few years.  When this technology becomes available, there will be new opportunities for retailing this service to the general public.  
  
 

4-On-line Banking and Stock Trading  

This is one of the areas that are being utilized more and more by different financial institutions.  Internet has made it possible for small investors to have access to a much wider information and to participate in the financial arena actively.  Internet has redefined "Discount Stock Brokers" by making it possible for small investors to buy and sell large number of company shares through various stock exchanges for minimal fees. E-trade and Ameritrade are examples of new discount brokers that have fully utilized the Internet for this purpose.  This is a growing area.  Charles Schwab recently announced its on-line stock-trading site in Chinese language. It is expected that this trend be followed by other investment agencies.  Banking institutions are also offering many of their services through Internet. This is also becoming a widely accepted practice that is beneficial to both banking institutions and consumers.  

  
5-Entertainment, Including Games, Gambling, Chat Lines and Pornographic SubjectMatters  

For many people, Internet has become an entertainment medium.  Since Internet can be used in interactive fashion and produces immediate results, it appeals to a large audience.  Online games, gambling, chat services and pornographic sites have based their services on this need. This is also a growing industry,which is under pressure by regulators. There are those that believe in the absence of any laws or regulation governing Internet, the average consumer will not have any protection against fraudulent Internet site owners.  
  

6- On-lineCommerce and Shopping Malls  
  
Mail order has been a well-accepted business practice in the west. Businesses have been selling all kind of products by displaying them in their catalogs and mailing them to potential buyers.  Few years ago, this was extended to selling products via dedicated shopping network through dedicated shopping television channels.  In the last four years, Internet has taken the lead and has made it possible for even small businesses to offer their products via Internet.  Initially, businesses offered their products through their web sites.  However, this trend is changing and the Internet users tend to visit on-line shopping malls consisting of many storefronts and selling a large variety of products. This is a growing area that offers much financial opportunity.  
  
  
7-Specialized Information Delivery Services  

There are sites that offer specific information and data about certain subject matters. These sites offer their services for a subscription fee.  They also offer an advertising environment dedicated to a product or a community. Those who wish to cater their services to specific target groups post their ads or list their products in these sites for a fee.  
  

All the aforementioned categories of Internet sites are competing with one another to attract visitors.  Regardless of what products or services they offer, the sites need to have as many visitors as possible. Selected companies have realized if they had a large number of visitors, they could crossover to other areas and expand their initial business plan.  America Online (AOL) now offers Internet access, Online trading, On-line shopping mall and many other income-generating services.  

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July 1998  
 

 

 
         
 
 
 
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