Aussie kids log on the Net

The vast majority (95 per cent) of Australian children aged between five and 14 had used a computer and almost half (47 per cent) had accessed the Internet in the past 12 months, according to findings released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Findings of the ABS surveys were summarised in a feature article in Use of the Internet by Householders. The survey found that the older children were, the more likely they were to have used a computer or accessed the Internet. However, the sex of the child did not affect the likelihood of use or access.

The most common home computer activities for children were school or educational activities and playing games, while the most common home Internet activities were school or educational activities, using e-mail or chat rooms and browsing the Internet for leisure.

The regular ABS survey of household use of IT found that more than half of all Australian households (53 per cent or 3.7 million households) had a home computer and more than one third (34 per cent or 2.4 million households) had home Internet access at August 2000.

US online shoppers lift time spent on the Net.

More than four out of 10 experienced online retail buyers will be doing at least some of their holiday gift buying online this year, according to a recent survey by Gartner Group. Among those buying gifts online, spending on the Internet will account for 43 per cent of their total holiday spending. Gartner's survey showed that people in the United States who have a year's experience or more in buying products and services over the Internet will spend $US8.4 billion this year. Worldwide online holiday spending this year is projected to reach $US19.5 billion.

Internet retailers will be selling to a much more experienced online shopper this year. This is both a positive and a negative for the more established online retailers. It's positive because online buyers tend to shop at sites with which they already have experience, so marketing efforts can be more effectively targeted. But expectations will also be higher, and it's crucial that Internet retailers fulfill customer requests this holiday season, or they risk losing those customers forever.

Industry-sponsored marketplaces gaining speedIndustry-sponsored marketplaces -- B2B trading coalitions formed by industry heavyweights -- are going live faster than expected, according to a new survey by Jupiter Research. More than 41 per cent of the leading 58 industry-sponsored marketplaces (ISMs) founded in 2000 currently have the ability to conduct a transaction online, while another 33 per cent are expected to launch before the end of this year. Compared to complex systems such as enterprise applications, which historically have taken nine to 12 months minimum to reach an operational state, ISMs are on track to become the fastest growing of all net markets. The ISM ramp-up is partially due to their ability to leverage inherent advantages of money, talent, transaction liquidity and gains of their market participants, all of which are things independent Net markets cannot achieve. From this vantage point, ISMs stand out as a bright spot in a disappointing digital landscape. However the real test will be for these businesses to create real value and functionality for marketplace users.

Banks threatened in global payments businessThe core payments franchise of commercial banks is under threat. Regulatory demands, customer sophistication, investment requirements, and strong new competitors are putting increasing pressure on revenues. The race to exploit the transaction and payment opportunities created by the Internet is accelerating more rapidly than ever before according to a new report by the Boston Consulting Group. Volumes of payments will continue to grow but the mix of instruments will change, and prices will continue to be under pressure. Banks, in the $US300 billion revenue payments market, risk losing out to two groups of new competitors in particular, namely online providers on the one hand, and access device manufacturers and network providers on the other.

In this report, the fourth in a series starting in 1996, BCG looks at four different views of the future, explores their revenue implications, and explains the factors which could cause each one of them to occur. The report starts with two scenarios under which these emergent players achieve greater prominence; the first deals with online payment providers, and their potential dominance of the online payments market; the second looks at how device manufacturers and network providers (telcos) could make significant inroads into both online and offline consumer payments. It then presents two further scenarios demonstrating how the incumbent banks could respond to maintain their positions in the industry and create potential value-adding opportunities B2B e-commerce.

Online's the place to buy gifts

A Web retailer's success or failure as a gift-buying destination depends on how well its presence and offerings match what the 20 million online gift buyers expect when they search for gifts online. According to a new report from Forrester Research, Web retailers need to understand which products online gift buyers seek, when gift buyers turn to the Web, and what drives satisfaction with online gift purchases.

Understanding which products resonate specifically with online gift buyers and how particular gift categories vary by occasion will help retailers push the right gifts at the right times. On average, gift buyers spend $US68 per online purchase. And while products like clothing and books hover near the top of the popularity list for every occasion, the gift that takes the cake differs with each event. For example, toys top the list for child-centric - gift-giving occasions, books are the favorite for adults' birthdays, and flowers are most popular for Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Importance of software resellers undiminishedThe indirect sale of software by channel resellers is growing steadily despite the arrival of application service providers (ASPs) and other forms of distribution, according to a report by International Data Corporation. The research showed that channel sales will continue to play a major role in worldwide software distribution, helping end-user software spending increase to $US343 billion by 2004 compared with last year's $US169 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 15 per cent.

The emergence of new models often causes market observers to prematurely discount the role the channel plays in their evolution. In the ASP model, the need to actually sell the rented software service is often forgotten. The ASP market's ability to engage and enable the traditional channel is critical to its long-term growth.

According to IDC, the three primary software markets -- application solutions, application development/deployment and system infrastructure software -- will increase the reliance on indirect channels, and by 2004 indirect sales will comprise 44 per cent of the software market. The market that will grow the fastest its indirect-sales volume is application development/deployment, with a 1999-2004 compound average growth rate of 21 per cent. By comparison, the software markets' combined compound average growth rate is 16 per cent during the same period.

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