Cybersex and free Internet accessBy Leon Worden
Friday, August 27, 1999
We often hear it's where sexual predators lurk, where nerdy math majors seek cybersex, where lonely, 40ish divorcees look for love, where pubescent teens can chat without moving their lips, where
All of those things are absolutely true.
At the same time, the Internet is none of those things— at least, no more so than the rest of society. The Internet is millions of people— real people, with real, warm bodies who, collectively, have taken a closed network of military computers and turned it into an indispensible household appliance.
In the span of a few short years, the Internet has revolutionized the way we gather news, seek entertainment, write letters, hold conversations, play games, conduct research and shop. And the changes keep coming.
In May, CarsDirect.com, owned by Dell Computer founder Michael Dell, started selling cars through the Internet. In June, AutoNation, owner of Magic Ford in the Valencia Auto Mall and, soon, the Terry York dealerships, followed suit. (Forty percent of new car buyers research their purchase online, according to J.D. Power and Associates. Actual sales are fewer, but they're expected to grow exponentially.)
Magic may be better equipped for the transition to online sales than most local firms. When it comes to
But Giga anticipates the number of small businesses doing business online will increase from 129,600 in 1998 to more than 2 million by 2002.
Locally, we'll be hearing more about companies like
Customers of Washington Mutual Bank, with six branches in the SCV, can already transfer funds, look up balances and pay bills over the Internet. Valencia Bank & Trust offers PC Banking, using dedicated software, for business customers, and will roll out the service for personal accounts late this year or in early 2000. (
For now, most Santa Clarita firms with an Internet presence (other than Internet service firms) use the Internet to market and expand their existing businesses, rather than as a new place to make sales. At Californiawills.com, for example, local attorney Michele Mann offers free legal advice; DCH Technology, a developer of hydrogen fuel cells and sensors, uses bulk
As more companies begin making better use of the Internet, and as the Internet continues to change the dynamics of doing business, municipalities that adapt most readily to those changes will be best suited to sustain the health of their economies.
Some cities are ahead of others— and they aren't all in the Silicon Valley or Seattle (where Nordstrom announced this week it will start selling shoes at Nordstromshoes.com, with the rest of its catalog offerings to follow) or New York (where, some analysts suggest, the success of Barnesandnoble.com is why Barnes & Noble is building fewer new store locations this year).
Some of the
NetZero was the small
NetZero launched its free access last October. In June the company had 613,000 active subscribers (1.17 million total since inception). In July the company filed registration papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public.
Perhaps the folks at our own City Hall are catching on. One asked this week, rhetorically, how Santa Clarita benefits, sales
It shouldn't take much to figure out that Santa Clarita benefits when there are more guys in Santa Clarita selling memorabilia on the Internet to people in Fresno.
©1999 LEON WORDEN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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