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Dim prospects for Apple Computer. So predicts Dell Computer founder and CEO Michael Dell in a public interview with BusinessWeek Editor-in-Chief Stephen B. Shepard--part of BusinessWeek's ongoing "Captains of Industry" series with the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.Q: What is the future of Apple Computer?A: Silicon Graphics.Q: That bad, huh?A: Maybe it's a little bit different, but if you look at proprietary computer companies, whether it's Digital or Data General or Silicon Graphics or Prime or Apple, I think the fates are all relatively similar. We know how the movie ends. Nasdaq may be knee-deep in losses, but the secondary market for domain names is hot. Some of the most sought-after Web addresses are changing hands for the first time--and for hefty prices. With more than 28 million domain names registered, "all the good dot-com names are already gone," says Jon Whelan, chief executive of domain name reseller Afternic.com.
That means companies just going online now may need to buy Web names that someone already owns. Whelan is currently brokering the resale of homefinance.com and hobby.com for $2 million apiece. Another resale company, GreatDomains.com, sold loans.com last year for $3 million; now it's listing stocks.com for $2.5 million. And companies such as PlanetRX.com, which bought up several single-name URLs long ago in hopes of using them to extend brands, are selling them for cash. Now that its online drugstore is defunct, PlanetRX has put 26 names, including arthritis.com, alzheimers.com, and fertility.com, on the block.
While .com names hold the most prestige, the next frontier is the new suffixes--.info, .biz, and .pro--likely to become available later this year. And even though folks can't yet own them, they're bidding on them by reserving them with a credit card or offering to buy out the people who already have them on hold. "We're already seeing a secondary market for the new domains," says Whelan. "And they don't even exist yet." A mere 40 miles lie between the White House and Baltimore's Camden Yards ballpark. And there, recent U.S. Presidents have made a habit of opening the Baltimore Orioles' season with the ceremonial first pitch. During their Presidencies, Ronald Reagan, George Bush (the elder), and lefty Bill Clinton all took the field.
But this year, President Bush (the younger) skipped the Baltimore tradition when the Orioles opened against the Boston Red Sox on Apr. 2. The President, a former part-owner of the Texas Rangers, apparently wasn't eager to share a ballpark with the Orioles' owner, heavy-hitting Democrat donor Peter Angelos.
Instead, Bush scheduled his Opening Day pitch for Apr. 6 in Milwaukee, where he planned to christen the new Miller Park and schmooze with an old pal, game commish Bud Selig.
It's no surprise that Bush would bristle from an invitation from the Orioles' feisty owner. Last summer, Angelos had a harsh assessment of candidate Bush, asserting: "I just don't think [he] is prepared for this job--internationally or domestically. He really doesn't have a clue." But that's the past. A less strident Angelos now says: "Many things are said in an election, but once the result is in, Americans unite behind the successful candidate." Sure, but don't count on the Prez pitching next year, either. Napster may be under siege, but clones* are popping up everywhere---for video, pictures, and software as well as music files. Can the recording and motion picture industries and other copyright holders kill them all? Not likely, because some have no central server, making it tough to track users.FILETOPIA, filetopia.comLaunched 3/99
Software uses encryption to protect the contents of files, e-mails, and messages.IMESH, imesh.comLaunched 11/99
Allows users to search content other iMesh users have available; similar to Napster. Tracking system helps it avoid copyright issues if sued.GNUTELLA, gnutella.wego.comLaunched 3/00
Napster's heir apparent, Provides truly decentralized sharing for any type of file. Download software by visiting a client site like Bearshare.com.MOJO NATION, mojonation.netLaunched 6/00
Users who provide their computers to store files that MojoNation distributes earn Mojo currency towards faster search results.* MP3.com has similarities to Napster but is not a true peer-to-peer site.
Data: O'Reilly & Associates It's B-School meets boot camp. About 80 students from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School will head to the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., on Apr. 19 for two days of intense basic training. The goal: use hardcore Marine discipline to whip business students into quick-thinking leaders.
Marine officers say they won't go easy on the suit-and-tie crowd; they'll be evaluating students' ability to assess new situations and develop action plans under time pressure. The students will get the same drill as grunts at Officer Candidates School: water hazards, 8-foot walls, barked orders--though they only have to endure one night of barracks and meals-ready-to-eat. "Our whole philosophy is to see how someone functions in a chaotic and unfamiliar environment[and instill] a philosophy of winning while incorporating risk," says Quantico's operations director Maj. Patrick Kelleher.
The base has tested similar groups before, including the Notre Dame women's soccer team and even a few corporations. The Wharton crew is the first from a business school. Given the market uncertainty, boot camp may be just the thing for tomorrow's Wall Street warriors. Every generation has a fascination with vampires. Witness the cult-like following of Buffy the Vampire Slayer among teens today, much as Bela Lugosi enraptured those of the 1930s.
So it's natural that a certain kind of e-tailer would seek to exploit the niche: Casketfurniture.com, which sells display cabinets, coffee tables, even entertainment centers that can be promptly converted into coffins, usually by just removing the shelves. "Why should you pay $5,000 for a casket and use it for only one day?" reasons Mark Zeabin, a 25-year-old Canadian who enlisted his family to help start the site in British Columbia a few years ago. He reports $50,000 in sales last year, and--unusual for an e-tailer--profitability. The best-seller, at $1,975, is a display cabinet made of birch. Since 2.6 million people die each year in the U.S. alone, Zeabin figures that his company could grab a chunk of the casket market by offering free shipping in North America in 3 to 10 days. Maybe not in time for a funeral, but certainly in time to redecorate. If Robin Hood were around today, he wouldn't have a place to hide. Sherwood Forest, like 97% of Europe's ancient woods, has been mostly turned into farmland, houses, and office parks by unrestrained logging and building--particularly in the past few decades, according to the World Wildlife Fund in Brussels. Other vanishing forests are Italy's Etna and France's Rambouillet. And most of the traditional birch and oak trees that gave Germany's Black Forest its allure have been replaced by easier-to-grow fir trees.
The WWF is calling for limits on new logging and construction--measures opposed by business groups. It also wants stricter enforcement of existing laws, which safeguard less than 3% of Europe's forests. "Many African countries do much better, designating up to 10% as nat-ural parks," says Ellen von Zitzewitz, WWF's European forest policy officer.
But the politics aren't promising. Since 1991, the European Commission has required forest protection. "But when it blocks development and employment possibilities," says Heidi Hautala, president of the European Parliament's Green group, "local governments simply don't enforce the law." Americans who know items such as wheelchairs can be 80% paid for by Medicare: ages 65 and up, 38%; 18 to 64, 52%