SNOWBIRD, Utah -- As anyone attending the
Hambrecht & Quist planet.wall.street
conference learned, international is the word Net executives are using to sum up the coming year.
That's not to say they aren't pondering other trends, such as the rising importance of business-to-business e-commerce or the growth of the small office/home office, or SOHO, market. But with companies like
discussing aspirations or advances overseas, worldwide Net expansion is taking on buzzword dimensions.
Conference presentations and company plans fairly hummed with talk of international expansion, while more international attendees than ever showed up. "International will be larger than North America" for many Internet companies, says Internet analyst Danny Rimer, who heads up Hambrecht & Quist's Internet Research Group. "And international will be a major theme at next year's conference."
said 45% of traffic comes from outside the U.S.; Inktomi is readying a search engine featuring a database of 40 million European documents for Europeans tired of a U.S.-centric Internet;
Check Point Software Technologies
generates half of its business from outside the U.S.; and
sees the Americas as its "fastest growing segment."
And H&Q's Rimer says, "We aren't even at the early stage for international adopters."
Another fast-growing segment, the SOHO market, got presenters like Xoom.com and Intuit talking. And business-to-business Internet commerce is expected to garner a bigger slice of the economic pie in 1999, Rimer says.
The consumer market has been more of a target for Internet investors, Rimer says, because "it's much sexier and a lot easier to understand than what Inktomi is doing with it's traffic server and
is doing with digital certificates." But eventually e-commerce between businesses will grow, offering more upside for investors because the market is so much bigger.
The new buzzwords, concentrated as they were on new markets and a more complete e-commerce vision, represent a departure from the one-note theme a year ago. That one could be summed up too easily: "
, Amazon.com, Amazon.com," says Genni Combes, an H&Q analyst.