WEB 2.0 - Net honchos to discuss Web opportunities

Attendees at this week's Web 2.0 conference will discuss new business opportunities on the Internet, such as online video and mobile Internet services.

As an impressive roster of technology industry celebrities gather at this week's Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, all eyes are on emerging opportunities for Internet companies.

Experts point to online video, mobile Internet services, social networking and enterprise adoption of advanced Web technologies as areas that are ripe for further innovation and capitalization.

At the event, CEOs, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs will offer their views, in keynote speeches and panels, on a myriad of topics, both specific to their businesses as well as applicable to the Internet market in general.

The lineup of speakers includes CEOs like News Corp's Rupert Murdoch, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, eBay's Meg Whitman, Viacom's Philippe Dauman and AT&T's Randall Stephenson.

Still, by now, the term Web 2.0, once synonymous with bold innovation in online services and applications, "is getting a little tired," said industry analyst Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence.

"It has always been an elusive term, but now it is very mainstream. It's widely used and the features that were characteristic of those early Web 2.0 companies are now widely adopted," Sterling said in a phone interview, referring to things like content tagging and sharing, blogs, wikis and syndicated feeds.

While receptive to the possibility that new, fresh ideas may come out of the conference, Sterling wonders how much the economic uncertainty in the U.S. is affecting the spirit of innovation so emblematic of the Web 2.0 era.

On the other hand, Tim Draper, founder and managing director of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, sees big opportunities in the application of Web 2.0 technologies in large organizations, particularly in areas like hosted software, project management and communication, and networking.

"All the applications that have driven the enterprise over the last client server generation will be renewed with Web 2.0 applications that will replace or enhance those applications. Big opportunities lie here," he said in an e-mail interview.

Opportunities also exist in the adaptation of online services to mobile devices, as demand for accessing these services from cell phones continues growing strongly, he said.

Draper is also confident that players in the online video space will find business models that will satisfy the video creators, artists and the providers of online video platforms, like Google's YouTube. "Entrepreneurs are honing in on models that work," he said.

Meanwhile, Andrew Parker, an associate analyst at venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, has great faith in online services that, with permission, monitor users' activities and, based on that data, personalize their offerings.

"I call this set of services 'implicit Web services' because they involve implicit data collection instead of explicit data entry," he said in an e-mail interview. "I think we'll see more valuable implicit web services going forward."

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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