Net worth: Despite dot-coms demise, Net usage grows


September 2, 2001



Even while more dot-com companies close down or are sold to larger firms, there's no evidence that Internet use is losing popularity with the American public.

A recent study released by the Gartner research group showed the number of U.S. households actively using the Internet increased 15 percent between November 2000 and June 2001.

The study found that a total of 61 percent of U.S. homes in June had a resident who went online from home at least once every month.

And the study found that those households with Internet access plan to keep it. Ninety percent said of U.S. homes with Internet access said they probably would keep the service.

Ninety-four percent of the homes wired with more expensive broadband Internet access -- via cable TV lines and telephone company DSL services -- said they also plan to continue their Internet services.

High-speed access is growing in popularity, the study found. Nearly 25 percent of U.S. households online do so with a high-speed connection compared to just 15 percent last November.

Among broadband users, more than half are accessing the Internet via cable TV lines. About 20 percent of dial-up users in the survey indicated they plan to upgrade to a faster service by the middle of next year.

EBAY TV. The popular auction Web site plans to branch out into television next year.

The company announced last week it will develop a syndicated daily TV series focusing on the world of collecting.

The program will offer features on eBay users, the types of things they collect, as well as following some of the more unusual items sold on the Web site. Consider it an online version of the popular "Antiques Roadshow" PBS program.

The program is intended for an afternoon time slot, and will be sold to local stations on a city-by-city basis.

With the scope of odd and unusual items that appear regularly on eBay -- from shards of debris allegedly from Russia's Mir space station, to the former childhood homes of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Madonna -- there should be no shortage of material.

EBay was first conceived as a trading platform for Pez dispensers in 1995. Today the site has more than 34 million registered users (including this writer).

The program should debut next fall. The TV deal is part of eBay's strategy to expand its operations beyond the auction Web site.

DOT GONE. The changing economic fortunes of Internet companies that soared to incredible heights -- and then plummeted -- is likely the reason so many surviving companies have changed their names.

The trend now is to remove the formerly trendy and catching dot-net, dot-com or dot-anything from a company name. Even the lower case "e" and "i" that denoted a company's connection to the "New Economy" company are being dropped.

The suffixes and prefixes are now seen as something of a liability, a reminder of all the dot-coms that have failed in the last 18 months or so. For companies that have been established for some time, the name changes have been less visible.

For example, became simply Thinkpath Inc. and became just plain Autobytel.

Younger companies can afford to switch names to illustrate a shift in the company's focus.

For example, Netpliance, a former maker of basic devices to give inexpensive access to the Internet, no longer makes the devices. Its new name, TippingPoint Technologies, reflects a change in its business focus.

Others who have dumped their cyber-connection include: Corp., which is changing its name to INTMedia Group; career service firm EarthWeb which will become Dice Inc.; which changed to just plain Kozmo (before its recent closure); and, which became EasyLink Services Corp. after it purchased AT&T's EasyLink subsidiary.

InfoSpace, a company which began in 1996 as just plain InfoSpace, added a ".com" suffix in 1998 to join in on the soaring stock values associated with dot-com companies. The company changed its name back to just plain InfoSpace earlier this year.

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