Online: More Women Than Men in '99

By the time we greet the year 2000, there will be more women than men using the Internet for the first time since there was an Internet. Frank Gens, senior vice president of Internet research for International Data, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based research firm, said the increased number of women users bodes well for increased shopping and commerce on the Web. \n At year's end, about one-third of all homes will have access to the Internet and about half of those will shop at Web sites, Gens said. \n Another tilt in the balance of Internet use will occur in the categories of domestic and international. As fast as the Internet is growing in the U.S., it is growing even faster outside it. By the end of 1999, Gens predicted more people will log onto the Internet from outside America than from inside her borders. \n That, in turn, creates greater opportunity for international sales. Commerce on the Internet should grow by $68 billion this year, a pace 30 times faster than the global economy. Wise Web site operators may take advantage by adding pages at their site in different languages. \n The controversy over adult porn will continue, Gens said. Data from one Web tracking firm indicates that 20 percent of the visitors to adult sites are between the ages of 12 and 17. As long as that occurs, the government will look for some way to reduce that percentage. Exactly what will be done will depend, at least in part, on a pending lawsuit that challenges the latest federal Internet restrictions. \n This will also be the year of a shakeout in the number of portals, Web sites that used to be called search engines. More than likely, the big and established sites, such as Yahoo! and Excite, will continue to thrive. Less popular portals may merge. \n Meanwhile, traditional media companies will become more interested in owning portals, much as NBC ( and Disney ( have already demonstrated.