Media Metrix celebrated its eighth birthday. The number of U.S. Web users has grown from 20 million in 1996 to 150 million today. (150 million, isn't that over half of America? Wow!)
In January 1996, the top 10 websites were: AOL, Webcrawler.com, Netscape, Yahoo!, Infoseek, Prodigy, Compuserve, UMich.edu, Primenet, and Well.com. Contrast that with today:
While information and content delivery have surged in popularity, e-commerce properties such as eBay, Amazon, TicketMaster, Orbitz, Expedia and others now rank among the most popular destinations on the Web. In fact, online spending (excluding auctions) is on target to break the $100 billion threshold this year -- another spectacular growth story tracked by comScore Networks.In January 2004, the top 10 "online properties" are Yahoo!, MSN, Time Warner, eBay, Google, Terra Lycos, About/Primedia, Amazon, Viacom, and the Weather Channel. Look at the brand equity developed:
In January 2004, 83.5 million Americans, or 55 percent of the Internet population, visited either eBay or Amazon, making these sites among the most heavily trafficked retailers in the country -- online or offline... Online travel agencies, such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, have revolutionized the travel industry by giving more power to consumers and driving down prices of airfare, hotel rooms and car rentals. Consumers have responded positively and, as a result, the online travel industry has grown from a fledgling business in 1996 to $41 billion in consumer sales in 2003.There has been a tremendous amount of consolidation, and it turns out the 99ers were right: the first movers now have a huge advantage over anyone hoping to build a brand on the Internet. No wonder Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! are working so hard to file as many search patents as possible. The big will continue to get bigger... and battle each other for more share of a growing market.
On the other hand, between off-the-shelf components and cheap and/or free infrastructure, it's fairly easy for anyone who wants to, to set up a small site or shop on the Web. That's quite democratizing, when you think about it.