The founder and chief executive of web media company CNet Inc, Halsey Minor, used the final keynote presentation at this year’s PC Expo in New York to update the thinking of Marshal McLuhan, the Canadian professor who coined numerous terms and phrases that have come back into fashion since the explosion of the web as […]
The founder and chief executive of web media company CNet Inc, Halsey Minor, used the final keynote presentation at this year’s PC Expo in New York to update the thinking of Marshal McLuhan, the Canadian professor who coined numerous terms and phrases that have come back into fashion since the explosion of the web as a publishing and broadcasting medium. After one of the greatest weeks in the history of our company, as Minor described the past few days, which included the investment by General Electric Co’s NBC in Snap, making it a joint venture between the two, Minor explained why he thought McLuhan is more relevant to the 90s than he was to the 60s and 70s. Pointing to that fact that as each of the principal media developed, they had a ripple effect, changing societies as they went, and the internet is no different in that respect to radio and television. Minor altered McLuhan’s famous remark about TV: the medium is the message, to apply to the web. The medium has become the marketplace, says Minor, emphasizing the way the web has changed not only the way people shop, but also the way companies sell their goods. For instance, price alone cannot be the only differentiator between products now so-called vortex sites, that combine products from numerous retailers and users can choose the cheapest and have it delivered to them. Minor also contends that companies seeking to find their place in the web commerce market need not give up hope if they perceive all the huge markets, such as cars, books or music to be already dominated by other vendors, because niche and specialist markets can also find a place on the web and become successful in their own field. Minor says these are just the types of retailers that were wiped out by the large stores like Wal-Mart – again he recalled McLuhan talking about the electronic media being a great leveler and a democratizing force. But that’s not to say commerce on the web will be easy, it will be just as brutal as regular commerce, says Minor, perhaps even more so, but the key to success, he says, is to adapt your business to the web, and not try and do it the other way around. Minor mocked those that said about a year ago that security worries about electronic commerce would be put on hold, which clearly hasn’t happened, and he said attempts to accurately forecast how big the market will be are pretty meaningless. From CNet’s point of view, in addition to its sites like shopper.com and computers.com that act as aggregators for retailers, Minor sees a big market for his company in electronic software distribution.