Poor Infrastructure Blamed for Asia's Dot-Com Woes

According to the report, many of the Asian Internet companies that went public between 1999 and 2000 were primarily either consumer portal and consumer commerce related.

But while the opportunity was (and still is) abundant, the necessary infrastructure required to leverage that simply did not exist, said Rajeev Gupta, regional Internet analyst, Goldman Sachs.

"The infrastructure, or e-frastructure, should have been developed first. Without it, everything is powerless," Gupta said.

Over the next 6 to 12 months, more Asian Internet companies will continue to consolidate or declare bankruptcy, he predicted.

"In many ways, what's happened is that a lot of people who were working in the corporate sector saw that they could make money in the dot-com market, and made the transition," he noted. "But now they can't get an IPO (initial public offering) done, and their ambition for making that kind of money has diminished."

"Also, venture capitalists won't fund as many businesses as they did," he added. "I'm hearing a lot of people sending resumes back to their original employers ... that's happening in the Unites States ..I think this will come to Asia, and probably has already started."

But Asian companies can take some comfort and relief by forming alliances with US companies, several of which have, over the past few months, taken an interest in increasing their presence in this region.

"What you have to recognise is that Asia is one of the largest and fastest growing markets, and is too big to ignore," Gupta said. "The US guys have really only started to stir the pot."

While there is no hard-and-fast rule to what business models will succeed, Gupta believes that e-business success stories will revolve around portals and e-services.

"Internet data centres and Web hosting are also very lucrative ...these segments are the most sensible and stable," he said.

However, there will not be an Amazon.com equivalent for Asia, he noted.

Rather, horizontal portals will capture a lion share of the business-to-consumer e-commerce market "because they already have traction and brand recognition", Gupta said.

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Eileen Yu

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