An introduction to e-commerce and distributed applications

2 Commerce and the internet

There are a number of ways in which companies can make money from the internet. Probably the best known way of making money is by selling some commodity; this could be a non-IT commodity such as a CD or item of clothing or it could be some piece of application software, a font, a browser plug-in or an operating system. Other forms of revenue raising are:

Such applications have changed the face of retailing, for example the fast communication of the internet has made bulk buying sites feasible and popular and has given rise to a number of novel commercial models. The most popular model is one which involves a pyramid of services, ranging from those that are free, to those which are charged at a premium rate. For example, a site which sells a piece of software might give the basic software away for free and then offer increasingly more sophisticated versions of the software to buyers. This form of partially free charging has percolated down from the internet to conventional software sales; for example, the company Qualcomm that markets the Eudora email reader makes a version of the program available for no cost, but will charge for fully featured versions.