The News Ė 01/22/01
New Domain Names Delayed
Well, ICANN apparently CANíT.
Canít get the new registrars for gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) up and
running as quickly as they promised, that is. ICANN is the relatively new
authority that controls the generic TLDs such as .com, .net, and .org. They
recently approved seven new gTLDs (.aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .name,
.museum and .pro) but are having problems getting the registrars ready to
go. Potential registrars had to apply to ICANN last year for the right to
register the new gTLDs. Once accepted, they needed to get the registration
systems together before opening for business.
Many people worldwide have
been clamoring for new gTLDs because .com has gotten so crowded, and
because they hated the monopolist policies of Network Solutions, who was
forced to give up the monopoly last year. Somehow these (supposedly)
intelligent people think it will be easier if there are more gTLDs. I donít
necessarily agree. I think more gTLDs solve little and add more confusion.
As an example, do you think Coke will allow anyone else to register
coke.biz, or coke.museum, or coke.anything? I think not. So the biggest
brand holders will try to dominate the new domain landscape like theyíve
dominated the current .com.
And think of the user
confusion. Nowadays, if you want to find a company, you tack .com on the
end of their name and take a stab at it. Chances are good youíll find them.
But with the new gTLDs you will have to think if theyíre a museum or a
professional association (lawyers, doctors, accountant) or a co-op. You may
have to try .com AND .biz. It could be a nightmare.
The only ray of light is
that the new gTLDs are not available to just anyone who wants to register a
name. To qualify for .pro, for example, you have to prove youíre a doctor,
lawyer, or accountant. But what if youíre an architect? Arenít you a
professional? What about an engineering firm? How about a strategic
Internet consultant? I can see a world of hurt coming as various
professional groups try to barge their way into .pro.
The other gTLDs are
similarly restricted: .aero (air travel), .biz (businesses), .coop
(cooperatives), .museum (museums), .name (family names). So will I need to
give up mikeellsworth.com and get mike.ellsworth.name? Will companies be
forced to give up .coms to get .pros? Itís hard to say, but stay tuned. It will
B2B Means Back 2 Basics
Hold any B2B stock? If youíre like me,
youíre a hurtiní unit. Ariba is trading down from a high of 183 at about
52, Commerce One went from 165 to 22, FreeMarkets dove from 370 to near 19,
PurchasePro only lost 80 percent of its value, at 16, down from 87, and
former media darling VerticalNet is just above 5, down from a high of 148.
Chris Vroom, an analyst at CS First Boston,
said he expects a "wave of recovery" because B2B technology is
the next big thing in IT.
Why is this? Because, for the most part,
B2B technology works, and it addresses real needs that real companies have.
And companies are going to modernize their procurement and supply chain
systems, maybe not this year, but certainly soon. All it takes in each
industry is for one company to gain a competitive advantage by driving cost
out of their supply chain, and the whole industry will tip.
So the technology enablers like Ariba, C1,
SAP, Oracle, i2, and Manugistics should prosper. Itís not as clear that
exchanges will flourish, however. See my presentation
at a recent Delphi Group conference for my take on the subject. Basically,
I believe that public exchanges will wither while private exchanges, AKA
intelligent supply chains, become the dominant form of B2B e-commerce by
the end of the decade.
The other news for exchanges is good,
however. Some analysts are seeing reason and realizing their earlier
irrational bias against transaction fees was misguided. Where exchanges
provide value, expect to see them collect a transaction fee. It probably
wonít be based on the value of the transaction, but businesses will pay it
like they pay the phone bill.
Any way you look at it, it will be an
[Standard disclaimers apply. If you
saw my portfolio, you wouldnít take stock advice from me!]
A Revolution in Retail
NetPOS is selling an Internet Point of Sale
(POS) system that uses the Application Service Provider (ASP) model to provide
real-time purchasing information to a central site. They aim to replace
cash registers and the headaches retailers have in keeping them running and
extracting meaningful information from them. They are also offering various
value added ASP applications like employee scheduling and video
So the CEO is 23 and I think to myself,
what can he know about the challenges of replacing cash registers in retail
settings? Then I look a little further and see that Nathaniel Borenstein is
Chief Scientist at NetPOS. Holey moley! This guy is really bright. I met
him back in 1994 (AKA, The Dark Ages) when I was part of the Dun &
Bradstreet Electronic Commerce Special Interest Group. At the time he was
with First Virtual, the first serious online payments company. He also
authored the MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) standard, which is
the reason you can get an email today with graphics imbedded, and he is the
author of three books, two patents, and numerous articles. So now Iím
interested, and impressed that this major smart guy is involved.
Do these guys have a chance against the NCRs of the world? Canít really
say. It will probably boil down to bandwidth. If they can get decent
bandwidth dropped into the stores, theyíve got a chance. If they need to
rely on modems, theyíre toast.
Nonetheless, some kind of rapid transfer of
POS data along the supply chain will be developed. It remains to be seen if
NetPOS will be the ones to hit the home run.