I'm pretty sure
this happens to everyone else now. This morning I had 74 e-mails. Only
one was actually for me. Not that I am disparaging those who sell Viagra,
or insist that I would want to look at hot sex at 9 am, no thanks, but
a good cup of coffee would be nice. I am sure the people who want to
make my life 'debt free' are genuine, as are credit cards for 2% and
the HUGE deal for profits in China, just offered two minutes ago. I
could do with the Last Minute holiday, if I didn't already know that
when you try to get them they don't actually exist anymore and I am
positive I'd call the number offered to 'find my missing children' if
I had any. Of course I may need to use the 'impending divorce' service
and of course, 'you never have enough insurance.'
I resist, I don't
want it, never have, but there it is, everyday and I have to spend minutes
deleting them. But this is only the beginning. When everyone has a WAP
phone with email and browsing facilities (hopefully running at speed)
the critical mass for junk will be a torrent around the world unless
you have filters.
The rush for e-commerce
highlands is at its Klondike best at the moment. The hills are full
of men and women getting rich off the backs of those doing the digging.
Sure, perhaps this time we aren't leeching dangerous chemicals into
the rivers, but don't tell me we aren't polluting something, even if
it is only our minds.
E-commerce is a
gold rush, but where may I ask is the gold? Shares I understand, junk
e-mails I understand, kids with 100 million to spend on an apartment
I can fathom, but where is the gold, the hard stuff, the tangible?
is about to be supplanted by m-commerce. Yes, the e is going mobile.
The phone will be the home for everything you do in your life and they
are going to come at you with push technology as fast as they can.
The future is the
web on your TV and the phone in your web. The phone will do everything
former TV could do and be totally mobile. The m-world will be where
your work and your money is and we'll get our news from there, vote,
do the lottery, you name it and you'll probably want to kill yourself
if you lose it. 'Phone-loss' trauma will be a major cause of social
How will life be?
Just check your messages. Somewhere in your daily junk mail will be
a congratulations note that you have been awarded a one-month contract
to do a job and you'll be so happy you'll forget that these jobs used
to be one year contracts and before that jobs for life.
The whole western
world is moving towards short contracts and with it employee loyalty
and goodwill. I have bad news for you. The smile you get when you get
your morning coffee at Starbucks may not be genuine. Which is why the
guys making money are the ones who are developing genuinely human and
friendly voice-software to lull you into buying stuff over the phone.
Some nicely modulated voice that implies more than it is giving. 'We
know what kind of voice youšll trust'. Scared. You should be. Were you
thinking that all this new media technology needed actual people?
Right now a number
of people are pretty amazed that things haven't crashed yet. , but the
stockmarket continues to defy all odds, with only little blips of warnings
on the way. Some now say it is too big to fail, which is a warning signal
all of itself. But companies that actually make something we drive or
eat or wear or clean with are a stockmarket joke. Companies that actually
employ people and make profits are derided. They have been bounced out
of the top 100 share index by internet companies, halo stocks that promise
fortunes to investors but have a long way to go before they generate
cash. In fact they are bleeding money as they desperately try to market
their way to market awareness.
It is as if only
the 100-1 shots are winning at the track now. But as a former gambler
myself, I know one thing for sure. If more than one total outsider winds
in a days meeting, either the weather is wrong or there is a fix and
you stop betting. You are not going to win. Right now, the outsiders
are winning all the races and the horses that have been trained and
carrying with the best jockeys on them with the track record of success,
might as well go home.
Obviously some stocks
like Vodaphone are worth something. They are real, they are providing
a service people want. But I'd rather have Nokia, who actually manufacture
what Vodaphone customers want. But even then, Finland's stock market
is very vulnerable. Nokia represents something like 75% of that total
market there. A real eggs-in-one basket place.
But what of companies
value at millions who don't actually deliver much or make anything?
boo.com or bol.com or Egg? boo spent nearly a million advertising itself
and is getting little penetration of the internet buyers market, bol
just can't compete with Amazon in delivery, stock or style and Egg is
a company (albeit with Prudentials' pockets) offering a great savings
rate and a wonderful credit card, but so far, and I have asked, no one
I know can get to the last page when you apply for the card on line,
it always locks you out when you try to submit.
Right now the internet
is about to get pretty hot in the UK. There is a battle raging for who
will survive as the key portal. Alta Vista laid down the first gauntlet
and now NTL have responded, both promising to provide virtually free
internet access, all the time for a nominal sign up fee. No doubt Freeserve
will have to live up to its name pretty soon. But will they penalise
you if you surf outside their range of provided links? If you read something,
like this magazine, will they disconnect you after five minutes if you
are reading , not surfing, which is what Alta Vista have stated they
Currently it is
estimated 12 million people surf in the UK regularly ( BBC News) With
free usage it could rise to 18 million over two years and then sort
of plateau at 23/24 million. Roughly half the population will be web
and e-mail connected and many of them will be using their phone to do
this within this period; not their Apple or PC. In fact, many will move
to an all digital service via their TV and there is a huge pent-up demand
for this in 80 percent of all UK homes. No need to prove it. Fully 90
percent of UK homes have a TV. It is no stretch to predict that we will
all go digital if our phone and TV can be web connected cheaply.
What's on TV will
hardly matter anymore. You'll have web TV on your phone and TV, bypassing
the former terrestrial services. At the Production Show in Olympia this
week predictions were that web TV and phones will have 125,000 possible
sources of TV channels to watch someday, from short films to 24 hours
chat, or news, or goldfish swimming around a bowl.
So what happens
to advertising revenue on the terrestrial channels? Will all these new
free web users be buying on line? It's pretty likely, judging from last
weeks bloc survey, that they will. What happens then when 24 million
people plus (including their families) are buying on-line? Chatting
on-line, gaming on-line. They'll be able to do this on the move from
their phone and there goes the argument about static on-line stay at
homes pigging out on pizza.
The modern phone
shopper will be able to see the things they like in shops and comparison
shop on-line, order it from wherever, immediately, or bargain with the
retailer on the spot. Sell it to me at this price or lose the deal.
The politics of the Bazaar will be realtime.
Some people talk
about the deconstruction of the high street, but I think comparison
shopping will save it. The phone will set us free from the desk. M-commerce
will be a real revolution. But e-jobs, e-culture will change everything.
We are headed for this temporary, ever-changing uncertain employment
world. Many e-jobs aren't fun or highly paid. Ask Amazon or Bol on-line
workers if they are happy. OK they can think of their stock options,
but arenšt they where Douglas Coupland's 'Microserfs' were at Microsoft
in 1994. Happiness comes only from checking the stock price every two
hours. Will everyone have stock options? John Lewis Group has done this
for years, but this was to keep employees loyal. E-and m-commerce companies
aren't interested in job loyalties, they want you in and out of the
place, job done in a short as time as possible. You pay for your own
For some, the mobile
phone users will be the smokers of this century - confined to phone
only sections of restaurants. But in a hands free phone culture, perhaps
we will all get used to talking to thin air?
So is there going
to be an e-crash?
Well until recently
when free access became part of the culture in the UK I would have said
yes, but right now, if NTL and Alta Vista play it right, then e- and
m-commerce is about to explode here. What it comes down to is what companies
are providing, how good the service is, how sustainable the concept
is and how different or easier it is to use than the high street.
There may well be
a liquidity crunch coming for many start-ups and major players, many
will be swallowed by others, but with free access, the web is going
to going into warp drive in the UK economy. All bets are off. Buy, buy,
By the by, if it all goes sour don't blame me.
Prediction: The Europeans will buy up everything and will end up working
for someone in Paris. It's the way you know.