Internet World, NYC
Usually, I'd take some time here to talk about the tax-free Internet bill that Congress passed, and the stupid and unconstitutional amendments that Congress piggybacked onto the bill. And then I'd sort of segue into the international domain name mess, and how no one can figure out how to run the domain system and the root servers of the Internet without ticking off most of the free world.
Instead, however, I'll talk Internet World, Jacob Javits Center, New York. Where 50,000 geeks and wannabes made their way through last week … These things were clear.
1. xDSL is ready for prime time, and Bell Atlantic is on it. Look for $59.95/mo. 640k bandwidth, coming to a metro area near you soon. Surprisingly, phone companies - which lagged badly in offering competitive Internet service - have recognized that cable companies could walk away with all the home high speed access and have finally gotten aggressive. See www.bellatlantic.com for the rollout plans … How will it compare to cable? The main thing is, it will compare, and consumers will benefit in the coming bandwidth war. Your local ISPs are going to be all over this as fast as they can get their hands on it.
2. Linux has the buzz. Red Hat, fresh off an infusion of cash from Intel and Netscape, was moved to the big room of the show. Caldera was giving out CDs.
3. It's become a rule of thumb at these things that you have to sit through a sales presentation to get the best freebies, like tee-shirts. You had to sit through five to get a Microsoft tee-shirt. No one I know was willing to do that.
4. The show was smaller than it was last year. It was huge, but smaller. There seemed to be less desperation in the air, however. There were fewer little companies. Either MecklerMedia, the hosts, upped the ante or there are fewer startups.
5. Lycos bought Hotbot and Wired online. The empire that was "Wired" has now been completely parted out. I talked to some people at the Lycos booth. "We bought it. It was for sale. That's all we know about it." Reportedly, it will continue to be operated as a separate business group.
6. Real Video has some cool partners, and the partners have some of the most interesting technology going. Would you believe 100 megabyte a second streaming MPEG for Intranets? Holy mackerel, now I've seen the future of cable TV, and it has nothing to do with any wires currently running into your house.
7. There's been a lot of skepticism about broadcast.com's public offering, as in, "How can a company that streams other people's media be worth a billion dollars?" And it's a good question. The folks at their booth had some good answers, though, as in, "OK, how many companies around actually know how to handle hundreds of thousands of streaming requests simultaneously?" The answer is, nobody, and it's probably not very easy to do. Tiny little ICQ was worth hundreds of millions to AOL, in part for the ICQ brand and customer base, but also because tiny little ICQ had figured out how to handle 700,000 simultaneous users, something AOL could barely do. Technology is worth money.
8. I knew this one, but I blew it anyway. DO NOT DRIVE to New York City. I agreed to be a passenger in a car instead of taking the train. We spent eight hours in the car instead of three in a train, and the parking and tolls cost as much as the train. I don't know if Boston has gotten any better since I last lived there, but New York is not a drivable city.
Jeff Schult and Nicole Chardenet can be reached at jeffbot at this domain.