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Thursday - May 18, 2000

Funeral Homes Find Way to Web

According to the Dallas News:

"Bound by tradition and dominated by small, family-run enterprises, the funeral services industry has been slow to embrace the Internet.

But a start-up called has figured out a clever way to enter the business, selling online memorials that can offer information about upcoming funeral services and then pay tribute to the departed long after the hearses have left the cemetery. Friends and relatives can visit this Internet portal for years to come to read obituaries, poems and eulogies and to view galleries of electronic photographs.

Generally, 'unless you're famous, most people don't get a big article in the newspaper,' said Carl Painter, vice president for sales at, who was in Dallas last week talking with Texas funeral directors at a conference. 'But we're not limited by space.' can sell its memorials directly to customers over the Internet. But mostly, the Evanston, Ill.-based company is following a clicks-and-mortar approach, with the funeral directors acting as a kind of sales force..."

Click here for the full story. [Link no longer active]

IDC Expects a Surge in Live Voice Communications over the Web
The whole world is already talking about the Internet, but more and more Internet users are talking over it. Communications and messaging services bringing live voice communications to the Internet (Web talk) are expanding at astronomic growth rates. IDC forecasts Web talk service provider revenues will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 200% from $208 million in 2000 to $16.5 billion by yearend 2004.

"Demand for Web talk capabilities is increasing from both Web sites and end users," said Mark Winther, group vice president of IDC's Worldwide Telecommunications research. "Individuals want to use Web talk to communicate with their friends and families, and companies with ecommerce sites want to apply Web talk to improve poor customer service that is often caused by lack of human interaction."

According to IDC, Web talk applications leverage the browsers, portals, and network structures already in place on the Internet. They became a reality because of improved Internet performance and the declining cost of bandwidth. Service providers are eager to take advantage of the opportunities generated by Web talk. Last year, more than 25 Web talk service providers launched commercial offerings.

Web talk service providers, which use a free business model, make their money from four revenue sources: advertising, up-selling to premium services, hosted services, and ecommerce fees. This year, the bulk of revenues will be generated from premium services, accounting for $96.3 million, or 46% of the market. Through 2004, revenues from hosted services and advertising will increase the fastest, however.

IDC believes Web talk service providers' current objective is to increase their user base quickly. Word of mouth, which in this case can be literally applied, will help these providers grow quickly in the beginning, but later more aggressive marketing techniques will have to be used.

Overall, IDC believes Web talk will be a huge success. "By 2004, the amount of time users spend talking on the Web will exceed 3 trillion minutes a year," Winther said.


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