(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Universally Accessible Non-PC Devices are Vital: IBM Chief
September 21, 1998 (TOKYO) -- IBM Corp. Chairman Louis Gerstner stressed
the importance of electronic commerce and the need for terminals other
than personal computers to give all people across the globe equal access
to computer networks.
|Gerstner made the remarks in his keynote address at IBM Fair '98, held
Sept. 16-18, 1998 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo.
"By the year 2000, the market for electronic commerce
will reach US$200 billion a year worldwide and about $20 billion in
Japan," Gerstner predicted. As evidence for his forecast, he spoke of
the importance of network-enabled businesses, noting that already four
percent of new cars in the United States are being sold through computer
networks. He also cited the example of the U.S. Air Force, which uses
networked bidding systems to reduce the time and cost of procuring materials.
Enterprises benefit in two ways by using electronic commerce, according
to Gerstner. One is lower transaction costs. "An airline company was
able to cut the cost of issuing tickets from US$8 to US$1 per ticket.
A bank reduced its per-transaction costs from more than US$1 for over-the-counter
manual processing to just one cent," he said.
The other benefit is the absence of entry barriers for new businesses
in the world of electronic commerce. Gerstner gave some examples, such
as a beer plant in Scotland that markets its products worldwide with
a staff of only four people. Even small- and mid-sized companies can
compete on equal terms with major players, he pointed out.
But network computing cannot become ubiquitous "unless we have an environment
that allows fair and open network access to everyone in the world,"
Gerstner stressed. For this to happen, "governments have to encourage
competition in telephony and other areas of telecommunications," he
said. His comments were taken as an implied criticism of the monopoly
structure of Japan's communications industry, which is often said to
be the reason for the high cost of communications in Japan.
Gerstner also argued that the present-day personal computer cannot remain
forever dominant. "The PC today is bloated with functionality and too
expensive. For over a billion people in the world, a PC costs more than
their annual income."
The key to making computer networks equally accessible to people everywhere
in the world is to develop tools other than PCs and to make them widely
available. The development of network computers, kiosk terminals and
other such devices will create opportunities for companies to provide
all sorts of services, Gerstner said.
(BizTech News Dept.)