2012: Say Goodbye to Feature Phones and Hello to E-Commerce

By Erin Harrison December 20, 2011

With 2012 just around the corner, analysts are making their predictions for what the New Year will bring – broadband, cloud computing and smartphones are all open for opportunity, according to a recent interview with Silicon Valley tycoon Marc Andreessen, who says 2012 will be the Year of the E-Tailer.

In his Q&A with CNET, Andreessen, who co-founded Netscape Communications and currently co-runs the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, says feature phones will soon be a thing of the past.

“I think 2012 is the year when consumers all around the world start saying no to feature phones and start saying yes to smartphones,” Andreessen said in the interview. “Feature phones are going to vanish out of the developed world and over the course of five years they’ll vanish out of the developing world.”

He also says e-commerce is gulping up a large margin of consumer revenue, so much so that retailers, especially those in the clothing or music business, ought to be pretty concerned.

“Retail runs at very thin margins. So if e-commerce takes a five percent or 10 percent or 15 percent bite out of your category, then it becomes harder to stay in business as a retailer. So I think 2012 is the year that that really kicks in,” Andreessen told CNET.

E-commerce retailers such as Amazon are obviously faring quite well, but other “e-tailers” are popping up that are focused on providing users with an improved customer experience, he said, unlocking opportunities for software assistance from companies like Milo and Shopkick.

“A lot of new startups are not only very viable but also growing very fast because they provide a very different experience,” Andreessen added.

He also applauded digital discount website Groupon for giving smaller retailers a bigger presence online.

“People have really underappreciated what Groupon has done, which is they've created a way for small businesses that aren’t online to spend money online and be able to dial up customers on demand. That's a really big deal,” Andreessen told CNET.

What else are we in store for in 2012 and beyond? Check out the full interview by clicking here.


Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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