Internet Business – What Next?

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The boom years of the internet were stoked in the 90s by universal public and business acceptance of this online medium, and the rapid increase in the power of the microchip. New businesses sprang up everywhere in the hope that the subsequent huge audiences would eventually bring in equally large revenue in selling services and advertising. As we all know, this did not materialize and the dot com boom was followed by the dot com crash in 2001. The business model that was set to change our lives, and the way we envisaged the future, had faltered. In 2004 Google, the one major survivor of the crash, was listed on the stock market. This fueled a revival in the fortunes of Silicon Valley often referred to as the 2.0 bubble. Google was able to place small, targeted advertisements next to the organic internet search results, and also on other websites, and that meant that many of the business models thought to have been buried by the dot com bust now rose from the grave. It seemed there was indeed money to be made from internet advertising, provided it could be accurately targeted. Other companies copied this business model and another series of popular sites, attracting millions of viewers was born. Companies such as My Space, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, for the most part social networking sites, came on to the market free of charge, in the hope that their captive audience and advertising would eventually pay for the privilege, as had been the case with Google. The blame for the past crash was placed firmly on the fact that not enough people had access to broadband, and now it would be different.

The realization in 2009 that someone would, at the end of the day, have to pay for all this, coupled with the world economic downturn and subsequent depression, has brought us back to the same situation as in 2001. Internet companies are again laying off staff, scaling back their costs, or even shutting down. There is even talk of charging for their content, information or services. So what is the next chapter for the internet industry? Technology marches on and the microchip gets more powerful and smaller each year. There are a record number of computers in an ever increasing number of countries. It has become part of our lives. But the problem of the business model remains. There is only so much advertising to go around, and the unthinkable idea of a charge to use sites is becoming an ever increasing possibility. The root of the problem lies in the sheer speed of the evolution of the industry. In the past, business models have taken years or even centuries to evolve, but with the speed of the technological advances and the subsequent spread of modern communications to nearly all parts of the globe, the science seems to be moving much faster than our thought processes. The world is pulling out of recession, or so we are told, and, of course, the industry will rise again, but the two questions are – when, and who will pick up the tab?

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Geoff Oswald is an internet marketer based in UK. To find out more, please visit

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