The State of the Internet (1996)

By | July 29, 1996

I’ve often compared the Internet to pre-World War I Europe. The net is a thick, twisted mass of agreements and alliances. The major players and their tangled web of handshakes can all be listed.

Oracle‘s leader Larry Ellison has predicted the doom of the PC and thinks that the NC (Network Computer) will rule the future. Larry despises the PC and everything about it including the platform 90% of PC’s run.

Which brings us to the dynamic duo, Intel and Microsoft. It’s a marriage made in heaven: Intel makes the hardware, Big Billy Gates makes the software.

The one software Microsoft is having trouble dominating is the web browser, which whispers promises of multi-billion dollar industries online. Whether it’s the future or not, Netscape is Numero Uno in the browser arena. Netscape wants to be the OS (Operating System) for the new NC (see above) which throws Oracle and Netscape into the proverbial sack together.

Sony sees all this web stuff looking a lot like television and thinks that none of these pissant little computer companies is gonna run the 50 year old electronics/entertainment company out of the electronics business. Sony is staging its own quiet coup d’etat on the Internet and believe me, come Xmas, there will be a major push to sell the new SONY web-playstation-tv-computer.

IBM, still miffed about losing the PC market back in the eighties, is trying desperately to make an impact. Big Blue is still big but heavy bureaucracy slows down IBM’s effectiveness to a crawl. It takes them 18 months to ship an empty box. Don’t count out the mainframe giant yet, they have a lot of capital and a lot of power. I like to call them the Sleeping Giant. If they buy Apple or have some kind of shakedown, I expect IBM to restructure and make a large impact.

Editors Note: IBM and SONY are right next to each other on Madison Ave. in NYC. I know that these are international companies but it makes a difference. Love thy Neighbor.

Novell is trying to stem its hemorrhaging network environment software (Netware) from the likes of Windows NT and Lotus Notes. Groupware and intranets are quickly becoming the vogue for small and large companies looking for a better file sharing technique. I expect Lotus Notes to gain a huge market share if their new owners (IBM) don’t screw it up. If they do, then NT will be as ubiquitous as Windows 3.1 and 95 are for desktops.

And of course the recovering Apple is maneuvering to become an internet player with its strong user base in the arts and graphics. By licensing its specs out, Apple has made clones viable. Power Computing just released an Apple clone clocked at a killer 225 mhtz with 8 megs of video ram. It’s the fastest thing in an offwhite box and just the remedy for a dissillousioned Apple user base.

Many smaller (but not that small) companies are waiting in the wings to become major players.

Cyrix is looking to steal away the Intel thunder with its 6×86 chip. It’s cheaper and faster but is the floating point unit up to snuff? Not sure

Gateway 2000 has the first TV-PC for sale but right on its heels are Sony and Toshiba.

Macromedia hopes to be the authoring tool for the new world order while the likes of NBC and AOL vie for the distrubution channel for the content. Even more confusion leads to the access to the channel which is being fought over by Nynex, MCI, UUNet, @Home (which is owned by TCI Cable) and Time Warner Cable.

It isn’t pretty and the more you get into it the uglier it gets. I just hope this net of alliances and yet to be made deals give us, the end users, something we can use.

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