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Heads Out Of The Sand

4/02/2001 02:00:00 AM Eastern

After an eight-year hiatus, I attended the International Recording Media Association's (IRMA) annual meeting, held in Indian Wells, Calif. (See p. 1.) In fact, the last meeting I attended was so long ago IRMA was called ITA (International Tape Association), and a U.K.-based company named Nimbus demonstrated that you could put movies on optical discs the size of a CD. Those were the days.

The thing that always struck me about this trade group, which is headed by president Charles Van Horn, is that its membership of mostly media replicators and duplicators never puts its head in the sand when it comes to new technology. With a meeting title of "The Evolution Of Technology: Change Is Constant," this year wasn't an exception.

IRMA invited executives from DataPlay, TiVo, Ultimate TV, broadcast equipment maker Harris, MP3.com, and musician and beatnik.com founder Thomas Dolby Robertson, among others, to discuss their businesses. Each showed, whether by accident or design, how each of their operations will complement or conflict with the businesses of IRMA members.

For this observer, it was the first technology meeting I attended since the alleged death of e-commerce and websites in general, at least in the consumer media. One of IRMA's speakers, Dale Mowry of Harris, did mention this: "I think we can safely say that we have seen the abrupt end of what might be called Internet euphoria-the naive notion that this new medium would revolutionize, if not save, the world. If the tech bubble has burst, the good news is that it has forced otherwise sensible people to bring their expectations and judgement into balance with the laws of economics and marketplace reality."

While I don't disagree with the spirit of Mowry's remarks, I hope that anyone managing businesses in CE, major appliances or computers doesn't take away the wrong message from that statement. Yes, the Internet's Gilded Age has ended, but it would be a major error on anyone's part to put his/her head back in the sand and say, "Well, Web-only threats to our business are now history, too, so we don't have to invest much in the Internet anymore." Or, "Now we can ignore the Web altogether."

Now the tough work begins: making a website work profitably as a sales and marketing tool, a B-to-B operation or an e-commerce unit for your company. Why? Because all of us have been hooked to the Web's wide potential. While investments in questionable Web-only businesses may have disappeared, if you don't push your companies to continue to develop your Web resources, you can bet your competitors across town, across the country or across the globe will.

CHANGES AT TWICE

This issue of TWICE marks the final edition for our copy chief Catherine Rutgers, who has worked at the paper with distinction for a decade. Catherine is leaving us for her first love, painting. No longer will editors at TWICE be cross-examined about why marketing and advertising people in this industry come up with odd and ungrammatical spellings for their company names and products. While some of us will miss those discussions, and others of that ilk, all of us will miss her hard work and attention to detail. We wish her only the best in her new endeavors.

Rejoining us after a brief stay at Cahners'eLogic division is Will Safer. Will, who was our Web editor when he left last fall, returns as an associate editor. He will help managing editor John Laposky and associate editor Tedra Meyer, performing page layout and copy editing duties. He will also do some coverage in the audio and video categories. Will, welcome back.

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