Alternatives to the W3C

Eric Bohlman ebohlman at
Thu Jan 20 05:24:10 GMT 2000

On Wed, 19 Jan 2000, Tyler Baker wrote:
> P.S. - For the E-Commerce folks, if your users cannot afford to upgrade their 486 to a
> modern 500 dollar computer so they can run the latest version of Navigator or IE, the
> chances are they are not gonna spend a lot of money online anyways because the don't even
> have enough money to upgrade their ancient computer.

You're guilty of projecting geek values onto the public at large.  If a
geek doesn't have the latest and greatest computer system, the reason is
likely to be that he doesn't have the cash to upgrade.  But non-geeks
generally anticipate computer upgrades with trepidation rather than
eagerness.  Only a small percentage of the population regards upgrading as
an enjoyable activity.  There are plenty of people who would be willing to
spend $1000 on-line for things they really wanted, but *not* to spend it
on upgrading their system.

If you have a product with high yuppie appeal that you want to sell
online, the likely end-user configuration even rhymes: "AOL and
Packard-Bell!"  That's a configuration that *no* self-respecting computer
geek would be caught dead with.  But as GM learned painfully in the 70s
and 80s, the kinds of cars the market wants to drive aren't necessarily
the same things GM's executives and engineers want to drive.

Note also that computers are much cheaper in the US than in the rest of
the world (as in World Wide Web) and also that nearly all advertised
computer prices in the US include a rebate that requires signing a
three-year contract with a particular ISP.

So far I've been talking about the upgrade situation for home users, but
for businesses it's even worse.  If a business has 500 computers,
upgrading them all is going to be *extremely* expensive even if the
computers themselves are free.  The only way you can hope to have an
all-bleeding-edge user base is to exclusively target startups and
first-time computer buyers.  And even then, you can't count on anything
except the computer itself.  For example, even if I could afford DSL, the
only way I could get it would be to move to a neighborhood where my rent
would at least double.  And I don't live in the sticks either.

I really think we're about to reach the point, if we haven't already
reached it, where the majority of computer users are going to start asking
"what *new* things do I get in return for upgrading my system, and how
much are they worth to me."  They're going to start rebelling at the idea
of upgrading simply to be able to keep doing what they're already doing or
to simply get shinier chrome on their applications.

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at
Archived as: or CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1
Please note: New list subscriptions now closed in preparation for transfer to OASIS.

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list