In 1996, Steve Jobs talked to Wired about the “Web,” a relatively new technological phenomenon that had not yet fully taken off. In the interview, the Apple cofounder hinted at how the internet would have an impact on “commerce” — this was before the term “e-commerce” had been coined, of course.
“It’s going to be huge,” Jobs said.
He couldn’t have been more right. This year, Cyber Monday sales topped $US2 billion, comScore reports. It was the biggest ever recorded.
Jobs revealed lots of his thoughts on what sort of impact the internet would have on people’s lives. He covered a great deal, like how the internet might be harnessed to foster revolution, or amusingly, how he didn’t see “people using the Web to get more information.” Indeed, he’s not right about everything.
But the most important and startling point he did pick out was the internet’s contribution to the economy — sales frenzies like Cyber Monday. In one exchange, Wired asked Jobs what “the economic landscape” would look like after the web really took off.
“If the Web got up to 10 per cent of the goods and services in this country, it would be phenomenal,” Jobs remarked. “I think it will go much higher than that. Eventually, it will become a huge part of the economy.”
He continued: “Who do you think will be the main beneficiary of the Web? Who wins the most?”
Wired delved deeper and prompted: “People who have something …”
“To sell!” is Jobs’ reply. “It’s more than publishing. It’s commerce. People are going to stop going to a lot of stores. And they’re going to buy stuff over the web!”
Apple certainly has something to sell — the iPhone, for example. In 1996, the famous smartphone would have been unfathomable. On Cyber Monday, its popularity was centrefold.
Later in the interview, Jobs mentioned web sales for a second time and touted commerce as one of the four key things people might use the service for. He said: “The third thing is commerce, which is even harder than complex publishing because you have to tie the Web into your order-management system, your collection system, things like that. I think we’re still two years away. But that’s also going to be huge.”
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