Throughout the show I kept scratching my head trying to figure out who exactly this show was supposed to be for: the End User? No, the information was presented that would scare off even some of the more seasoned Netters. Was it instead for the Internet Professional? No, browsers and providers seemed to be the main event, and they were trying to get people on line with their products and services more than anything else. How about Service Providers? Well if you were local then it would have been a great place to get information, but if you were from out of two forget it! I was continually faced with the question: Who is this show for and what does it all mean?
What I realized was, the best way to cut through some of the confusion and the overwhelming clutter of the show was to take a look at it all from my own computer in my own home over the Internet. Even though the physical conference is now over, the real show is still going on: on line! (See the end of the article for all the addresses to check out)
A big gaping hole in the Internet World Expo had to be the absence of a booth from Netscape . I kept leafing back and forth through my program trying to find where they were, and was shocked to find that they didn't have a booth. But to say they didn't have a booth isn't to say they weren't there. In every conversation I had with exhibitors, the subject of Netscape came up. Also the yet to be released Netscape 1.1 took best honors for outstanding software product. In Netscape's physical absence a flurry of web browsers seemed to try to seize the opportunity to give a pitch for their product. One browser had a sign that said, " Netscape is free, (Ours) is better." It wasn't.
The show seemed to be plagued with technical glitches and computer errors. There was an interesting messaging system, which allowed people to leave messages for other conference attendees who could retrieve them with a swipe of their conference badge. They had four terminals and at least two were down at all times. One notable computer crash was at the Microsoft both with the demo of Windows '95. I think I took a little too much personal pleasure with that one. But in all the glitches and gremlins everyone seemed to keep a good attitude about it, and there was an almost unspoken understanding that none of us are immune to crashes.
Both Apple and IBM put a good face forward at the show for their products on the net. Apple is definitely having to play catch-up though, as it took them a little longer to get on the wagon, but they're getting there. IBM had to have the best give away and the worst presentation. The presentation was a Wayne's World rip off called Dwayne's World that would have annoyed even a twelve year old. The presentation focused more on how cool The Internet was and less about OS/2 and how IBM really fits into it all. The give away was a little squishy stress ball in the shape of the world, which was a big hit, but definitely not worth sitting through the annoying presentation.
Apple had a more modest booth which showed off Mac's ability to keep up with the pack. They had a presentation over at the San Jose Fairmont about Mac HTTP and Name Servers, but I didn't have a chance to get over to it. You really had to want to find out about what Apple was doing at the booth, as Apple people just kind of stood around waiting to answer questions. One real treat at the booth was a representative from Adobe (even though Adobe had their own booth across the way). I had a great talk with her about Adobe Acrobat.
Adobe is really pushing Acrobat for Internet use. This
is not going to be hard considering their large financial
investment with Netscape. Two things to keep an eye
out for will be a Netscape integrated viewer for Acrobat,
and an add-on application from Adobe called Acrobat
Weblink that allows Acrobat documents to link to other
documents on the Internet.
One of the keywords from Adobe seemed to be "anti-alias" as they move towards a clearer more accurate on screen display of PDF documents to match their great printed output.
Other news from Adobe was their new product in their Acrobat line: Adobe Capture(to be released in May). Adobe Capture helps break down the barriers of bringing the printed text on to The Internet. One of the great features of the software is that it can produce a bit mapped image of an entire document in PDF while placing recognized text behind the image, so that the document can still be fully search able. (suggested retail price of $2,995). I have been talking up Adobe Acrobat in relationship to The Internet for some time, and I still think it is something to really watch.
Another company to file in the "one to watch" category is Bitstream. With TrueDoc Bitstream is set to change the shape of the World Wide Web. TrueDoc finally makes imaging, sharing and publishing of richly formatted electronic documents possible. In an impressive manor, fonts are loaded much like pictures from the sight of the web server, freeing web designers to use a wide range of fonts in their work. TrueDoc does this so intuitively and so efficiently it dwarfs similar efforts with True Type. In a full web page the size of the font information in True Type was 240K while the equivalent TrueDoc information was 8K! Watch these guys, this is definitely hot!
Another hot technology was Real Audio , I loved the sign over the Real Audio booth, it read, "Real Surfers Don't Download". Real Audio allows you to listen to real time audio as it is being sent to you. Real Audio is a great first step in bringing real audio-on-demand to the net. I loved not having to wait as the sound downloaded, the sound quality wasn't amazing, it sounded a little like a staticy radio, but the product is still in the beta testing phase, so well have to see how it turns out in its release version. Real Audio is going to distribute a free player (it doesn't record) that you can use with Netscape.
I was genuinely impressed both by the down to earth attitude and the amazing reception for the guys at Yahoo. For anyone who hasn't paid Yahoo a visit I have some advice: run, don't walk to http://www.yahoo.com. Yahoo started a year ago when two Electrical Engineering Ph.D.'s at Stanford University (David Filo and Jerry Yang) began to catalog interesting sights on the Internet. In just a year, over 200,000 people per day use Yahoo, amounting to some 10 million access per week. The Stanford students have had to take a leave of absence from their studies to devote to the booming demand for Yahoo. With big name backers like Sequoia Capital and Netscape Yahoo is going to be a household name, as it continues to provide excellent free cataloging of the net.
The big news of the show had to be that Compuserve has launched itself on to the net. What's unique about Compuserve's approach is that you can use their existing lines for IP connection. This is great news for the traveler who wants to get mail from their Internet account. Three hours of Internet access are included in the basic monthly fee and extra time is charged at a fairly reasonable price. Compuserve had a PC version of their Web Browser: Net Launcher at the show and is reportedly working on the Mac version. I was told by one of the guys at the booth that it didn't matter which browser you chose so Mac users can PPP or SLIP right in using the same software they are using on the net.
The biggest loser of the show had to be Cathay Pacific their booth consisted of a woman standing in front of a pictured backdrop handing out pens and brochures, next to her was a paper mock up of a terminal with the companies home page on it. What a waste of money!
Speaking of give aways, the show seemed to be full of them. As I mentioned before the best one came from IBM who gave out squishy stress balls shaped like globes. Individual came in a definite close second as they gave out a wrist pad, It was really nice getting something that I really needed. Clarinet gave out some great buttons, the one I picked up said: "IP therefore I am". Mecklermedia gave out copies of the April Internet World (with a copy of Internet In a Box's Web Browser. I still don't know why they didn't give out copies of May's?" Mecklermedia also took the opportunity to introduce their new publication Web Week which looks VERY promising. Net Worth gave out disk boxes, and PAWWS gave out bottle openers and mouse pads. United Media had buttons with a "bat symbol" shining over a city, only the bat symbol was replaced by Dilbert! I can't even begin to count the number of pens I got.
I counted at least five different disks from Internet providers in my stack, urging me to get on line with them. Most of them had both Macintosh and PC versions. But one notable exception was Netcom, who took a PC only stance , I spoke with a rep at Netcom about plans for a Macintosh version of Netcriuser and the rep told me flat out they have no plans for one. (I still don't understand Netcom.) Most of the disks that were handed out were in packaging that made them look like CD's (including disks from Microsoft), I cried foul more than once. I couldn't believe it, the only real CD I got was a great little sampler CD from Walnut Creek CD-ROM.
I have a lot of really mixed feelings about Internet World '95, I really wished Netscape was there, would have liked to have seen a booth for PGP, chatted with the people at EFF. It would have been nice not to have been solicited every five minutes by Internet providers, it was like being married in a singles bar, I kept having to politely decline provider's advances. I really think that the real benefit of the show will come when I am back home and have some time to check out all the web sights that I jotted down. I will feel really good when I hear that all this info I am hauling back is useful to everyone who couldn't make the trek down.
HARD FACTS OF THE SHOW:
BIG WINNERS: Netscape and Yahoo
BIG LOSERS: Netcom and Cathay Pacific Airways
Outstanding Software Product: Netscape Navigator 1.1: Netscape
Outstanding Hardware Product: SOHO Assistant: IBM
Outstanding Hardware Product: Nethopper: Rockwell Communications
Oustanding Service: Yahoo Web Serve; Yahoo
Excellence in Promotion: Mike Godwin Esq.; Electronic Frontier Foundation
Individual Achievemnet: Philip Zimmermann/Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)
Best of The Internet: Yahoo Web server; Yahoo
3Com Adobe Apple Bitsream Cathay Pacific CMP Publications Compuserve Delphi Internet Electronic Frontier Foundation IBM Individual Mecklermedia Mercury Center Miscrosoft Netcom Netscape PAWWS AstraNet Qualcomm RealAudio Rockwell Spry Worth Net Yahoo ________________________________________________
Geoffrey Kleinman firstname.lastname@example.org
*This article is published by Geoffrey Kleinman (email@example.com), Copyright 1995 by Geoffrey Kleinman. All rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the expressed concent of the publisher. It may be forwarded for personal use in electronic form only in its complete form with the by line included.