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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Internet Time

"One of the main lessons from the history of communications is that technologies are often adopted rapidly, but seldom at the astronomical rates that popular imagination associates with the Internet. This applies even to the Internet, where change tends to be less rapid than is often thought.

Browsers were adopted rapidly. The first informal release of Mosaic took place in the spring of 1993, and in under two years, the majority of Internet traffic was Web-related. However, that was an exception. Other changes have been slower. Just consider Internet telephony, introduced back in 1995. It is finally beginning to have a noticeable effect, but it is far from dominant. "

One application is adopted when it "works".

Internet telephony DIDN'T work. At least not as the expectations.

And it was also too expensive.

But look at Skype. In a few months reached millions.

That is following "internet time".


Even technologies with compelling advantages tend to take a decade to dominate markets. Fax machines took about 10 years, from the introduction of the first inexpensive models until they became ubiquitous. Cell phones, one of the fastest growing industries, have taken about 15 years to reach their present level.

It took very little to cell phones to reach their present level from the moment they became "affordable".

And the Fax machine was invented when the NET didn't exist yet. (at least what we call Internet)




The decade-long diffusion periods listed above for consumer goods and services are due to the inertia of the millions of people who have to individually decide to adopt a new technology. Most new products and services are in that category. Sociological changes are even slower, taking a generation or two. Normal change, with a simple shift in technology that offers serious advantages over older, more established competitor (as with CDs over vinyl records, which provided higher quality sound reproduction, or cell phones, which offered mobility, even at the cost of sound quality), takes on the order of a decade.



The adoption of Mp3 didn't take a decade.

It took very little from the moment they were widely used with Napster.

That is:

If a technology is interesting for the Mass Market, is affordable, is reachable, it really takes very little time to reach millions.

That is the power of the NET.
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