|Title||From tech-led to brand-led—has the internet portal business grown up?|
The internet is a young industry. Although its origins go back to the 1960s, commercial and consumer use of the worldwide-web really began only in the mid-1990s, little more than a decade ago. Even in this short time, however, a number of online businesses have grown to become major global brands in their own right. In leading brand consultancy Interbrand's ‘Top One Hundred Global Brands for 2005’, for example, net brands Google, Yahoo! and Amazon.com were ranked at numbers 38, 58 and 68 with values of US$8.5bn, 5.3bn and 4.2bn, respectively. Historically, it is probably fair to say that the net industry has been technology led—some of the most successful brands, notably Google, were famously started by young engineers or ‘techies’. But does the emergence of major brands in this sector mean that online business is going through a transformation, moving from the tumultuous, technology-led growth of the 1990s towards a more mature stage where competences in marketing and brand management rather than technology will become even more important to success? Focusing on portal websites as a product category, this paper raises two main questions; what phase of its life cycle is the portal sector of e-business at and what are the strategic implications for managing portal brands? It takes an overview of secondary industry growth data and draws on developments in life cycle theory and the notion of ‘completeness’ that characterises fully mature products to make an exploratory and qualitative attempt to provide an answer. The main findings are that there are indications that portals may be approaching maturity in terms of industry growth, but that they still continue to show the signs of significant technological innovation and product development that characterises a sector still in a growth phase. It concludes by highlighting some future, strategic issues for brand management in the portal industry.
|Journal||Journal of Brand Management|
|Journal citation||14 (5), pp. 368-379|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||doi:10.1057/palgrave.bm.2550077|