The Internet’s three 20 year phases

Laurance GuyAt Yesterday’s Fashion Without Borders event hosted by We Are Pentagon, Laurence Guy set out his view of the Internet and ecommerce. He spoke of three 20 year phases of which we’re now in the second stage.

1989 – 2009 Atlantic Phase

Internet Explorer IconWay back in 1998 Tim Berners Lee set out the basis of the Internet with HTTP and implemented the first successful communication between two computers. This was the code that revolutionised the world and, although much developed, is still the code that the Internet runs on today.

This is the world that Amazon, eBay, Apple and Google have dominated and was the start of ecommerce in the Western world. Pretty much all of the Internet as we know it came from European or American companies and most of the technology hardware that the Internet runs of came from countries based either side of the Atlantic.

If you’re running your ecommerce business based on targeting countries either side of the Atlantic there’s some bad news for you… This phase of the Internet is done and dusted, competition is high and pretty much everyone that’s connected is already buying online. There’s nothing new to see.

2009 – 2029 The Pacific Phase

ChinaThe second wave of ecommerce is coming from Asia. There are double the number of online shoppers in China as there are in the US. Consumers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are all buying online and what’s more they’re more often than not buying on smart phones. Alibaba is one of the biggest ecommerce companies in the world shipping an incredible 278 million orders worth 57.1 billion yuan (£6bn) on Singles Day (11th November) last year.

If you’re not already selling to Asia then according to Laurence you’re behind the curve, but there is some good news. We’re six years into the Pacific Phase, and if you compare that to the Atlantic Phase it’s the equivalent of getting into ecommerce in 1995. Think back to 1995 and imagine you had the knowledge back then that you have today – that’s the opportunity waiting for you in Asia.

2029 – 2049 The Indian Phase

indiaThe future is the Indian Ocean, trade has always prospered around trade routes and India along with Africa is slap bang in between both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. India’s population, already at 1.252bn is ripe to explode and is already one of the largest in the world both by population and spend. Given another decade this will be the focus of ecommerce and one likely to dwarf both the Atlantic and the Pacific phases of the Internet.

Laurence joked if you’re looking for a sound investment buy a beach hut in Somalia. It might sound daft, but the Caribbean was once the haunt of pirates too and look at the price of property there and once the Indian Phase of ecommerce takes off it will transform India and Africa.

These then are the three 20 year phases of the Internet and ecommerce. If you stay focused on traditional western markets and marketplaces in the EU and US then you’ll be missing out on the Pacific opportunity. It’s a little early to focus on the Indian phase, but watch out for early opportunities to get an early foothold as the market develops.

If you’re wondering how to take full advantage of the Pacific phase, Pentagon is a way of opening doors to the International markets and has already forged relationships with the some of the leading marketplaces operating in these countries.