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Future looks bright for Internet business


The market for Internet services will be one of the fastest growing technology segments over the next five years, analysts are predicting.

If the next five years are anything like the last five, there's no need to doubt it. But let's take a look back at the state of the Internet -- circa 1993.

It's the year that the White House first establishes its Internet presence with www.whitehouse.gov.

The National Science Foundation was in charge of the Internet -- and was building its own network backbone known as NSFNet.

The World Wide Web was getting media attention, though Internet access was available most at major universities and in larger cities, but it wasn't the most popular use of the Internet -- FTP (File Transfer Protocol) was the top use besides electronic mail.

A young Marc Andressen at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the University of Illinois develop a graphical user interface -- Mosaic -- for browsing the still-young World Wide Web (Andressen leaves NCSA in late 1993 to help co-found a small software company called Netscape Communications).

And according to a study by the International Data Corp, the next five years will see continued expansion -- and need -- for Internet services.

IDC's latest study predicts that the demand for information technology support will skyrocket as more businesses seek to take their products and services online.

Rather than build their own e-commerce "storefronts," companies large and small will be turning to outside sources to perform these tasks for them -- faster and more efficiently than they could create them in-house.

The U.S. holds the largest share of the worldwide Internet service market, with $2.9 billion in spending in 1997. This figure will balloon to $22 billion in the U.S. alone by 2002, the IDC says.

For more predictions on electronic commerce trends, visit the IDC on the Web at www.idc.com.

MAC ON TIME. Sales of Apple Computer Corp's iMac have cooled somewhat since its release in mid-August.

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Apple's marketers want to be sure that every Christmas list can afford a new computer.

To that end, the company announced last week plans to offer $29.99 a month financing for its futuristic-looking iMac.

The iMac retails for $1,299.

Apple's financing plan requires 67 monthly payments, which total nearly $1,992 when paid in full.

The plan requires no money down, and charges an annual interest rate of 14.9 percent. Other add-ons, like printers, scanners and software will be eligible for the financing program for the first 90 days after the purchase of the iMac.

The new plan will be offered through participating Apple retailers and resellers.

For more information, visit Apple's Web site at www.apple.com.

FORMAT FAILURE. One of the early leaders in data storage fell on hard times last week, according to a story by the Associated Press.

Storage-media pioneer SyQuest Technology Inc. pulled its stock off the Nasdaq stock market and announced it may file for bankruptcy protection.

SyQuest had led the industry with its removable storage drives in the mid-1990s, but was overtaken by the popular Zip drive format from Iomega.

Iomega's stock benefited from the news of SyQuest's recent troubles, jumping $1 on Thursday and tripling in the past month.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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