Communication, China, Customer Spending, and Comic Relief... 10-97

As most of us realize, not all relationships are easy ones. But what about the times when we realize we're uncomfortable about something or someone? Could it be because we don't really know them, nor they us? While not too many of us agree with the position China has had on human rights, most companies are benefiting from the expanding Pacific Rim trade. When Jiang commented that "it goes without saying that, naturally, we may have shortcomings and even make some mistakes in our work. However, we've been working on a constant basis to improve our work," it became apparent that viewing democracy up close had made a positive impact.

While visiting Lucent Technology and ATT, Chinese President Jiang Zemin said, "China's market is open to you. Only those who can seize the opportunities and bring their advantages into play can eventually gain the market share." In a country where 95 percent of households don't have a telephone, and only 55 million telephone lines exist to serve 1.2 billion people, if 20 million lines per year were installed over the next five years, China would overtake the US as the largest telecom market.

Among the other companies who hosted Jiang: IBM officials demonstrated new technology for banking on the Internet, a supercomputer that forecasts the weather, and a card that uses the natural conductivity of the human body to transmit data between two electronic devices. Boeing Company signed a $3 billion order for 50 jets. Gov. Pete Wilson made a good point when he said, "Free expression is a catalyst for economic growth. If you don't communicate, then I think you greatly diminish the opportunity for bringing about change.'' China and Taiwan each spend about $6 billion annually on California products, mostly computer and aerospace equipment.

While the Internet has made distances irrelevant and removed borders, 85 percent of all current Internet users are American. But packets of data travel from any computer to any other computer in the world, hindered only by slow connections and a few corporate firewalls. Cyberspace is proving to be the great equalizer for Israel, enabling it to overcome distance and politics and carve a niche as an Internet superpower. "The Israeli military's encryption systems are second to none in the world," said John Carabello, who organized a recent Internet World Fair in Jerusalem. "When you buy or sell software, no one cares if you're sitting in NewYork, Cairo or Tel Aviv."

Lost amid the market turbulence is one simple fact: Technology stocks recently had the best quarter of the year. An unknown communications chip maker - Alpha Industries, an Internet household name - Yahoo, and a company many investors wrote off years ago - Unisys, were the biggest third quarter winners. Industry sales in the U.S. grew at least 20 percent in the third quarter, Dataquest said in a recent report, while global sales rose 16 percent. Compaq is the world's largest PC maker, number 2 is Dell; number 3 Packard-Bell, number 4 IBM, and number 5 Hewlett-Packard, with Gateway 2000 in the number 6 spot. The forecast calls for further strength in computer sales as consumers continue to flock to cheaper PCs. Analysts say outlook for the fourth quarter is fairly bright. Meantime, Apple announced rebates of up to $200 on its Power Macintosh 6500 series.

Many people jump onto the 'Net without realizing that marketing on the Internet takes time, and a solid plan. You have to set goals, and know how to attain them. Every prospective buyer of your products and services has a finite amount of personal bandwidth available to hear your marketing message. According to a survey done by Web traffic researcher Media Matrix, the most-accessed domains are, and Steve Coffey reported, "It's not just about content any more. It's about how to attract people and give them what they need." The two largest traffic periods on the Web are 11 am to 1 pm and 9 pm to 10 pm Eastern time. Many of us have seen bumper stickers that read, "Think Global. Act Local."

Anyone doing business on the Web is an instant multinational. On the Internet, all commerce is global. Yet when viewing web sites, one comes to realize that few sites respect the reality that the Web is a more global medium than satellite TV news. The Web should follow in the footsteps of Hollywood, which now derives more than half its income from the international market. Perhaps we need to think local -- while acting global. Monopolies don't like to give up monopoly power. What should Microsoft do about the DOJ's lawsuit? In a recent survey, 53% of the respondents said, "try to settle by offering two versions of Win 95: one with IE, one without." Not a bad idea.

While we're on the subject, the two front-runners in the race to provide fast Internet access are DSL and cable. Jesse Berst at ZDNet, believes power companies, satellites, and wireless are three dark horse technologies that could surprise us. Four interim solutions -- ISDN, Shared T1, 56 K modems, and Broadcast signal -- may provide bandwidth improvements while we wait for the real thing. Either explore one of these, Jesse says, or learn to get used to plodding along at 28.8 K.

It's almost that time of the year again -- time to venture to Vegas and revel in five days of COMDEX, the biggest computer convention known to man (and woman). Some of what I'm interested in viewing there -- chip-based international banking. Designed to create an infrastructure for more secure, more intelligent debit cards, along with a new class of electronic commerce applications to run on them, the advantages of a chip card are simple for the banks that support them. They enable better customer security, better control of customer spending, and the means to embed special programs into the card. In Manhattan, more than 600 merchants are participating in a chip card trial with both MasterCard and Visa International Inc. So far, the reviews are positive.

Now to the comic relief. Why do Americans spend more money on Halloween -- 2.5 billion dollars a year on candy, costumes, and home decorations -- than any other holiday except Christmas? People report it lets them get back to childhood and relieve stress. Okay, let's take a moment to ponder a great loss in the entertainment world. The man who wrote the song "Hokey Pokey" died. What was really horrible is that they had trouble keeping the body in the casket. They'd put his left leg in......well, you know the rest. -- Have a great week.

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