E-Commerce Reaches Out for Y2K Profits

Fears of the year 2000 (Y2K) computer “bug” have spurred an entire industry of products and services aimed at fixing potential software and hardware glitches before the clock strikes midnight on News Year’s Eve. As the deadline draws near, those who hope to capitalize on the Y2K phenomenon are moving quickly, lining up for last-minute profits. The e-commerce industry is no exception.

Online software store Beyond.com (Nasdaq: BYND) announced on Tuesday the launch of its Y2K Center, which offers, according to the company, “more Y2K software products and books than any other Internet software reseller.”

Beyond.com is certainly not alone in the quest for Y2K-related sales. Many other e-commerce players are turning big Y2K worries into big online business.

Y2K Sales Prime for E-Commerce

Online software sales continue to be one of the major driving forces in the growth of e-commerce. In the most basic of terms, all online shoppers are already using software to connect to the Internet and, as such, are potential purchasers of software applications and upgrades, including, of course, Y2K fixes.

While Beyond.com competitor, Cyberian Outpost has no specialized section for Y2K software, the online software and hardware store, in fact, features McAfee Office, including its 2000 toolbox, on the front page of its software area.

C|net’s Download.com has emerged as another major online distributor of Y2K software, offering freeware and shareware for all to download. However, the availability of freeware and shareware is of little concern to software stores like Beyond.com.

Bong Suh, vice president of corporate development at Beyond.com, told the E-Commerce Times, “We generally find that shareware titles are a great feeder into the commercial version. It’s a highly effective means for customer acquisition.”

In fact, some of the software from Download.com can also be purchased online at the Buydirect e-commerce site. As you may recall, Beyond.com and Buydirect merged in a $133 million (US$) deal on April 2, 1999.

Buy It Online, Read All About It

In addition to software, consumers have been eager for information about the Year 200 bug. This growing appetite for Y2K information has not gone unnoticed by online booksellers. For example, a quick search for “Y2K” on the Amazon.com site yields more than 156 book titles, ranging from “The Y2K Personal Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Get from This Side of the Crisis to the Other” to “How to Profit from the Y2K Recession: By Converting the Year 2000 Crisis into an Opportunity for Your Investments and Business.”

A search on BarnesAndNoble.com produced more than 104 titles dealing with Y2K issues, including some crowd-pleasers like “Millenium Meltdown: Spiritual and Practical Strategies to Survive Y2K” and “Y2K: It’s Already Too Late”

The Y2K Software Hit Parade

Among the dozens of offerings competing to eliminate your Y2K worries, there are some favorites. Here is a list of the top consumer picks, that we compiled from various Y2K software destinations:

  1. Microsoft Year 2000 Product Analyzer(available free on Microsoft’s Web site)
  2. Symantec’s Norton 2000(estimated price: $49.95)
  3. 2000 Toolbox from Network Associates(estimated price: $29.95)
  4. Check 2000 PC Deluxe from Greenwich Mean Time (estimated price: $59.95)
  5. IntelliFix 2000 from Intelliquis(estimated price: $29.95)
  6. Y2K Test & Fix from: SecureNet Technologies Inc.(estimated price: $19.95)

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