Group Meeting Summary, 10/9/96
- coordinate the best time to view "The Net"
- exchange ideas and research about each other's areas of interest.
- Today, we further examined each other's related issues concerning electronic
- Descussion detail
- We discussed the implications of offering insurance services over the
internet (ie, the regulations involved). Currently, insurance services
on the internet are all of informational. Actual insurance policy transaction
only happen in Utah, and the business volume in that category is very slim.
However, all major insurance providers have their web sites setup. Quite
a few of service provider offer insurance quotes across hundreds of insurance
companies. Direct sale of insurance policy may be happening in the near
future, dependent upon regulation approval.
- Minitel is currently the biggest electronic information provider in
France. Associated with minitel are quite a bit of disadvantage: high price
of communication, few service providers (20,000), limited information base
(only the ones with minitel can view or post information). However, minitel
does have some potentials: well established network, fully operating commercial
rings, gained critical mass (6.5 million terminals). Internet in Europe
may replace minitel, however, minitel can convert itself into an internet
access provider and shift all its customers onto its internet server. If
this situation does happen,minitel might give internet in Europe a big
boost into commercial world.
- We also discussed the implications of electronic commerce for inter-firm
relationships,and how it can serve as an efficient platform for transactions
at the business-to-business level.
Meeting 10/22: Brief recap
Cynthia, Suzanne, Ziun, Alissa
- discussion regarding the format of our specific part of the Focus group
web page, and its relation to the overall Internet Commerce web page.
- we all need access to the web page, so we can all contribute directly
and rotate weekly updates
- this week's subject: different business models we have seen on the
web (Cynthia's area of focus). Everyone contributed several sites, from
retail and interactive seminars to real estate and electronic trading.
Discussion included pre-internet status of these businesses, whether or
not they could exist outside the Internet, and specific advantages the
Internet brings to each of the businesses and revenue models .
- Alissa has changed the focus of her area to the specific issues surrounding
electronic securities trading on the Internet.
Business Models of Commerce on the Internet
With the start-up of so many new businesses specific to the Internet,
and the number of existing firms jumping onto the Web, an examination is
due of the differing business models being applied. There seems to be plenty
of hype regarding the potential profits of doing business on the Web, but
in actuality, few companies have seen break-even, much less positive earnings.
Several pertinent questions arise: which revenue models are actually producing
results (profits, brand awarenss, etc.)? What are some assumptions behind
each model, and how are these likely to change as the Internet matures?
What are the competitive advantages that firms might need to successful
internet strategies? What types of business activitities will customers
be willing to pay for once the novelty wears off, either over the Internet
or though increased product pricing?
We will focus our investigation on two types of businesses:
- Firms that did not or could not exist prior to widespread use of the
Internet (let's call these New.Com)
- Firms that eixst elsewhere in space and time but are adapting to or
making use of the Internet (call these Adapt.Com)
Certain business ideas are specific to the Web in that they exploit
the new ways that people can interact and access information. Despite the
entrepreneurial ideas, however, revenue models have emerged that seem to
mimic their non-net counterparts rather closely.
examples: Amazon, Merchant Winery
Advertising Revenues but Free to Customers
examples: BigBook, Rent.Net
Many traditional business also attracted to the Internet. Some see competitive
advantage in reaching more customers and selling product through a new
distribution channel, and others see the Web as just an "electronic
New Distribution Channels
examples: Marshall.com, pctrade
examples: Levis, homes.com
Group Meeting 10/31/96:
Internet used in Europe:
Swedish and French internet market
- Spainish government is pushing forward for broad internet usage in
its domestic market. By pooling the telecommunication vendors financial
support, the government is encouraging citizens to purchase subsidized
low price computers to access the internet.
- Our group conclusion: Although the Spainish internet market are virtually
non-exist, and almost no contents providers. With the government so forcefully
pushing forward on internet, it could achieve the success result like the
minitel in France.
- Current internet users in Sweden: 150K
- Current internet users in France: 400K
- Our group conclusion: Given the vast amount of population in these
two countries, internet users represent less than 3% of the total population.
Which may be difficult to induce immediate massive internet commerce. However,
given the success example of internet commerce in the United States, it
may very likely that financial service and information providers be conducting
service over the internet in the near future. With the globalization of
the internet, Susanne suggested that the demand for translation of web
pages will increase rapidly.
Changes to cultural institutions,
We discussed the pros and cons of the possibilities offered by the Internet
and multimedia to view images and pictures from museums.
- improving access of people to pictures/paintings which are in museums
far away or abroad (where it may be costly to go)
- convenience (no opening hours, no need to move, no hassle, better visibility
as noone will be blocking your view, no getting tired) - possibility to
look at details, magnify the image/painting
- availability of information related to the painting/painter readily
available and possibility to widen this research through hyperlinks to
other URLs) and possibility to compare different pictures/paintings with
each other which is not possible in real life, thus increasing the education
- possibility to see pieces of art which are not currently shown in museums
which have limited space
- Multimedia and networks, by facilitating access to art may entice some
people to go to the museum and see the real thing. They may be used as
a form of advertising for museums. They may also be used to increase learning.
In particular they allow to tailor the information - for example the user
could specify that he is particularly interested in getting information
on symbolism in the different paintings viewed, or he could specify that
he only wants to see 18th century paintings from a special painting school.
- We discussed what we meant by experiencing the real thing, in a museum
in terms of atmosphere, real size of the picture/painting or of monuments,
colour, depth of the painting (a painting on the Internet has no depth),
the age, the smell, the context (in a museum one is surrounded by paintings,
a feeling not felt when watching a screen), the silence of the museum.
- We disagreed as to whether this experience was a lonely experience
or a shared experience.
- We also discussed the possibility for museums to become increasingly
art libraries where people can do research, view CD-roms from other museums
for example or look at databases. This would require that museums collaborate
together to set up these study tools.
- bandwith capacity limits the experience. It takes time to download
the images. CD-roms are a better solution.
- the quality does not enable to live the same cultural and artistic
experience as the real thing. The typical museum atmosphere is lacking,
you may not share your experience with a companion
- this is another reason for people to stay at home and not meet anyone
- the people who have never seen the real thing may not be encouraged
to go and see it as the substitute may not attract them or may be sufficient
for their needs. Having never experienced the real thing, they may not
know the difference and risk confusing the two.
- multimedia and networks may have a negative effect on museums' funding,
as governments fund museums which attract visitors (to promote culture)
but also hope to see these visitors spend money in the country (indirect
economic benefit). As funding often depends on the number of visitors,
this system will need to be changed to include visitors of museums on the
Internet (this will bring the issue of what will constitute a visit as
a visitor may only look at one picture).
- We discussed the analogy with watching sports matches on TV instead
of going to the stadium. These are two very distinct experiences, which
are not necessarily mutually exclusive as people continue to go to the
stadium and see the real thing. On TV you see better and get more information,
commentaries whereas at the game you draw your own conclusions and share
an experience with people around you (although one can share the TV experience
- We also discussed whether multimedia and networks really improve the
access of people to art as the Internet is still not widely available throughout
the world, in particular outside the US. So access to computers and the
Internet in public places suchas libraries could improve access to 'museum'-related
sites. Another item we discussed was the need for the education system
to bring students to museums so that they can experience the real thing
and not risk being satisfied with the Internet experience.
- We also disagreed on the type on whether the people going to the museum
and looking at museum pictures on the Internet were the same people or
- Another lesson we drew from the discussion was that museums should
learn from multimedia and network experience and try to be more user-friendly,
provide more education (more information) and entertainment (in particular
trying to appeal to smaller children in order to slowly educate them and
help them enjoy art).
Group Meeting Summary, 11/13/96
- English and American culture in multimedia and networks
The predominance of English and American culture in multimedia and networks
is a particular concern for many countries, the French being the most vehement
As regards the language, not only are most technical expressions related
to multimedia in English (as most of the technologies originated in North
America), but also most of the content. Some estimates that more than 80%
of the web sites on the Internet are in English, which doesnIt leave much
to the other languages of the world.
France, which has long viewed itself as a linguistic power, leads a
loose alliance of French-speaking countries, known as "la Francophonie",
which it uses as a weapon in the battle against perceived Anglo-Saxon encroachment.
The first modern language regulation aimed at monitoring and transforming
the use of French dates back from 1966 and emanated from President Charles
de Gaulle, a name associated with French independence, nationalism and
power. Several other regulations followed and committees were set in place
to examine issues relating to the use, practice, promotion, enrichment,
and dissemination of French in France and abroad. The first Parliamentary
regulation dates back to 1975 and took the form of a consumer protection
law; it provided for an exception to the "use French" rule when
the word for a product had no French equivalent. The 1994 Loi Toubon replaced
the 1975 regulation, with a much clearer cultural objective. French is
required for all radio and television shows and advertising; exceptions
include musical works, original version films, and language learning programs.
Private individuals or entities engaged in "public sector" activities
(a term not defined in the law) must comply with the language regulation.
However, the extension of the law into the sensitive area of privacy rights
was successfully challenged under constitutional law by opponents to the
bill as an excessive constraint on the freedom of expression.
The French were also instrumental in the drafting and adoption of the
European Community Directive requiring that its member countries dedicate
at least one-half of their television air time to European -made programs.
The Directive was the European answer to the fear that Europe's cultural
autonomy, and thus its cultural creativity were being seriously undermined
by the tentacular American intrusion. Europe, which takes pride in its
multi-secular capital of culture, took this step to try to prevent the
United States from commodifying culture.
However although one can see efforts by the French to help their cinema
survive, initiative is still lacking as regards more modern technologies,
in particular the Internet. More sites on the Internet seem to have been
created by the French-speaking Canadians than by the French proportionally.
This issue is related to the underdevelopment of the use of the Internet
- Topics of insurance internet commerce:
1. insurance internet servers' exposure on the web: Very few
people actually visited the insurance companies' web sites. Only a little
more people have visited the agencies' web sites to get insurance quotes.
However, people have in some way heard about some web sites provide insurance
quotes and information.
2. consumer behavior in purchasing insurance: People still will
buy insurance through their old agents, but at the same time getting insurance
quotes from the net or call around to find better quotes. If cheaper quotes
surface, then switching insurance companies is likely.
3. privacy issues: In general people feel uncomfortable giving
out personal information. People are even offended when they know their
credit information has been acquired by the insurance company. Only driving
history and automobile information that people feel are necessary for the
insurance company to have.
4. fairness issues: When people find out that they are being
declined of insurance coverage due to a model output, their immediate feelings
are unfair, upset, discrimination. Some would have the patient to find
out more about the reasons why they are declined and if reasons are legitimate,
then they would accept. Some people would just complain to the management
of the company.
5. consumer expectation of insurance internet commerce: People
expect buying insurance from the net is instantly. Waiting around for e-mail
confirmation seems unacceptable. Instant approval or response are expected
when people submit the application form.
6. feasibility of insurance internet commerce: People are made
of different interests. Some would feel uncomfortable and not trust worthy
to buy insurance through the net, some would like to try out the new technology
given that buying insurance through the web will be cheaper. However, people
in general value the human touch that the insurance agent has. So, if not
the agent, they would want to talk to some real human in the insurance
company to go through the documents.
Group Meeting Summary, 11/20/96
- must be finished by 12/5
- do we all have access yet? if so, what is the URL?
- consistency - we should all edit, reconfigure, make changes as we see
fit! we all need access! content, graphics, etc. must be more consistent
as well as navigation issues.
- still need to link back and forth to the other I-Commerce group
- missing meeting notes - get previous notes onto the page
- Biz model section still under meeting notes from 10/22 (?) and should
Alissa's subject focus:
still unclear. should join up with one of the areas we are currently
Internet in France
As Suzanne delves further into the issues of the Internet in Europe,
she is finding that most emphasis and media attention is focused more on
the infrastructure and politics than the users and potential applications
of the Web. We discussed the following points that will be addressed in
both this section of the group web page and in Suzanne’s individual report.
- Master Plan and committee approach to infrastructure issues typically
implemented in Europe is leading to a slow, bureaucratic, and politically
charged process, but very few actual users of the Internet
- little media attention currently paid to the applications and uses
of the internet.
- primary media focus is on the potential for ABUSE such as child pornography,
pedophile solicitations, etc. as well as privacy issues.
- France’s Minitel system is slowly improving, but likely would die with
mass adoption of the Internet. potential political implications?
- Minitel currently has 70-80% market penetration. PC’s have less than
15% penetration. Will the introduction of Network Computers increase Internet
use in France, or will customers need the added functionality of a regular
PC to instigate use of the Internet?
Suzanne's project focus: Internet in France
For her project, Suzanne will focus specifically on the Internet in
France. This market is particularly interesting for several reasons, including
- France currently has fairly restrictive legislation regarding the content
and timing of television braodcasting. How will this carry over to the
Internet? France Telecom has a 50% stake in Minitel. How much political
influence do they weild and what are the implications?
- French consumers have been traditionally wary of non-french language
materials and products. how will the global scope and primarily english-language
Web be accepted (or not)?
Cynthia's project focus: Web page for teen girls
Cynthia outlined her idea for a web page focused on teen girls and young
women. realizing that the scope of the project will allow only for an outline
and first pass at a business plan, she would like to go ahead with this
- basic idea: be an information resource and chat group setting. target
girls ages 12-15 who tend to have lots of questions (re: other teen, sex,
their bodies, boys, girls, paretns, school-work, etc.). this could also
be a great setting to “meet” kids from different areas of the world and
address more broad issues relating to politics, different roles of women
around the world, travel, education, lifestyles, etc.
- traditionally computer-related prodcuts and software have been targetted
at teen-age boys and young men. this is generally considered an enormous
market. as such, there “should” be an equally huge market of teen-age girls
available, assuming they are reachable. these lead to big questions going
- why are there fewer “techno-girls” than nerd boys?
- is the above question true?
- if true, at what age do boys and girls diverge in their use of and
attraction to the Computer (young children use PC’s approxinmately the
- revenue model of a girl-focused page looks good. look at traditional
media such as all those dumb teen magazines to see how much advertisers
value this market.
Group Meeting Summary: 12/2/96
During our group meeting, we discussed of the following topics:
Electronic Commerce Website: We carefully examined the current attributes
of our website and agreed that it needs contextualizing. Our individual
subjects researched need to be linked together. This will make our web
page more comprehensive to the viewer.
Internet Infrastructure: We discussed the ramifications of internet
usage in the international context. Specifically, we addressed the telecommunications
infrastructure required for internet growth.
The infrastructure is improving dramatically among developing countries.
There are extensive plans by both public and private entities to increase
communications capabilities within South America and the Asian region.
State of the art technology is being implemented in developing nations,
leapfrogging that of the U.S. For example, telcos are currently installing
fiber optic, coaxial cables, and increasing density of telephone lines.
Furthermore, the global trend of increasing deregulation of telcos facilitates
a growth of international internet usage. This is due to an increase in
competition among telcos, which result in more affordable communication
Regulations: Additionally we discussed regulation issues on an international
level. We examined censorship on international internet usage.
For instance, France and China are both struggling with censoring information
on the internet. The French government strongly desires to preserve French
culture, banning broadcasting of American slang, etc. The internet is difficult
to police and is filled with American culture. The regulation of this new
medium will definitely pose a challenge for France's regulatory efforts.
In additiona to preserving culture, China's government is concerned
with their citizens having access to foreign information and vice versa.
Their strategy is to control access, by turning the internet into an "intranet"
The question we ended with, food for thought: Should there be an entity
that is separate from national governments which impose international regulations
regarding cencorship on Internet Service Providers?