GIS Monitor Jan 4, 2001
-The Geography of Returns: Return.com
-WAP Gets Poor Review, WAP Forum Questions Findings
-Points of Interest
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THE GEOGRAPHY OF RETURNS: RETURN.COM
Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) runs neighborhood or mall-based store where you can
mail packages, ship via UPS or FedEx and perform other postal related
tasks. It is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of the US Post
Office – but run privately for profit. They have been quite successful. In
fact, in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, in 1995, the person who ran the local MBE
also managed the town’s post office, which was very conveniently in the
Last year MBE partnered with Innotrac, a provider of customized,
technology-based marketing support and fulfillment services. Their
offspring was Return.com. Currently with 11 employees, Return.com is one
of the great ideas of online/catalog commerce. Their mission is to provide
a service for the return of Web and catalog purchased merchandise.
Remember the California gold rush of 1849? The people who made a fortune
were not those who found gold, but those who sold the picks, shovels and
blue jeans to the seekers. And, so it is today: it won’t matter if the
next boo.com goes makes a million or goes belly-up after a month, so long
as Return.com can send back the unwanted merchandise.
Return.com is playing the click and mortar game quite well. With 3,400 MBE
stores already handling shipping, Return.com could provide additional
traffic as well as a basis for additional stores.
To date, four merchants are using the service. The beta version went online
with Coca-Cola and Haggar in May 2000.
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WAP GETS POOR REIVEW, WAP FORUM QUESTIONS FINDINGS
A recent study of the viability of WAP (wireless application protocol)
concludes there is still much room for improvement. A Nielson Norman
Consulting report points out that 70% of participants, after a weeklong
trial, said they’d not be using WAP within a year. The study found that
after that week it still took users a full minute to check weather,
headlines or TV listings. The report goes on to note the challenges users
found: poor site design, specialized language, illogical organization for
tasks (TV programs arranged by channel, not time), and poor
differentiation between sites.
The WAP standard -- a way to move Web information to handheld devices --
was developed by the three biggest mobile phone suppliers, Ericsson,
Nokia, and Motorola, along with Phone.com. (Phone.com has since merged
with Software.com to become Openwave.)
The WAP Forum, an industry group, is questioning the study. They respond
by noting that only 20 participants tried WAP phones, a very small sample.
Further, they ask why the company did not speak to existing users in
London (where the study was held) or Japan, where EZWeb has millions of
WAP has had some success, but many analysts see it as a type of stopgap
measure until more bandwidth, larger screens, and better connectivity is
available. This report is not the first to question the long-term
viability of WAP.
POINTS OF INTEREST
-Need a free GIS Viewer for Linux? Try running ESRI’s ArcExplorer on
Linux. Peter N. Schweitzer of the USGS gives the recipe, and notes that
“ArcExplorer 3.0 runs well under Linux” and is “a very handy program.”
Thanks to Peter for sharing his experience.
-DotComGuy left his year-long hibernation living in a house with no access
to the outside world, save that provided by his laptop to the Internet. He
bought food, chatted, played all via the Web as curious onlookers watched
him via Webcams. Paid some $90K for the stunt, he’ll soon reclaim his real
name, Mitch, and marry a lady he met in a chat room during his isolation.
The take of onlookers is not too positive: some suggest he highlighted all
that’s bad about the Net (shopping for example) while others say that they
already live just as he did, so what’s the big deal? Here’s one guy who
did not need location-based services!
-Yahoo!, recently in trouble for selling Nazi artifacts on the Net in
France, has simply decided not to sell such things over the Net ANYWHERE.
The newly banned items at Yahoo! will include medals, weapons, uniforms
and other items that carry swastikas or other symbols associated with hate
groups. Currently banned items include tobacco, live animals and used
underwear. The decision, says Yahoo!, has nothing to do with the case it
lost in a French court, but rather reflects its users interest. Perhaps
related, Yahoo! also announced it will now charge for individuals to put
items up for auction.
-Back in December the GIS Monitor noted the problems of free Internet
providers and pointed out that Juno and NetZero were the two left
standing. NetZero announced Dec 21 that users of more than 40 hours per
month will be charged $9.95. That fee will provide for unlimited. Anyone
using less than 40 hours will continue to receive free service. In
unrelated news, NetZero has filed suit against Juno asserting that Juno is
inappropriately using NetZero’s patented technology for advertising.
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