Drug Sales Or Not, E-Commerce Still Not A Bitter Pill


John Patrick, the former IBM Internet guru, notes a recent Pew Internet and American Life study that shows only 4 percent of Americans have bought prescription drugs online.

Patrick finds that number is larger than he would have believed (spam really has given online drug sales a bad name) but notes other data showing e-commerce is still growing at a fairly healthy double-digit rate. However, he says online commerce still hasn't hit its full potential:

Why aren't e-commerce sales 20 percent of the pie by now instead of 2 percent? There are many reasons -- most of them not technology-related. The number of people with "always on" Internet connections is a factor. Ease of use and concerns about security, identity theft and privacy also contribute. I am optimistic that these issues will be adequately addressed. As eBay and Amazon continue to grow and show real profits to the world, business leaders are paying more attention. The free markets will drive competition, and then innovation will kick into high gear. We have barely scratched the surface of what is possible.

Usage models may also be a factor, and they're still evolving. For one thing, wireless connectivity is more prevalent "- slowly changing "always on" to "always on " anywhere." A separate Pew study earlier this year found that 28 percent of American adults are "wireless ready."

That means more stuff can be done in more places (this blog item is being written and filed from a Starbucks in Commack, N.Y., for example). And look for the number to grow even faster, since the likes of Intel and AMD said this week they were significantly slashing prices on their mobile processor solutions.

If you just look at the data, you would see that e-commerce survived the dot-com bust quite well -- bitter pills and all.