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DAVOS - The Web is set to become really World Wide

By Marcel Michelson

DAVOS, Switzerland, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The World Wide Web is about to justify its name as the Internet takes off across the globe, and China
overtakes the United States as the biggest Internet country, executives said on Tuesday.

Masayoshi Son, the president and chief executive of Softbank Corporation <9984.T>, said he expected the number of Internet users to rise to one
billion in 2005 from 200 million now.

"At the moment, half of the total, 100 million, is in the United States. By 2005, it is my personal opinion there will be 200 million users in the U.S., but
300 million in China and 80 million in Japan," he said during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum which ends here today.

Son said the growth of the Internet beyond the U.S. depended on entrepreneurship and venture capital which is not available everywhere to Internet

Son is reputed to be one of the world`s richest men after he took a 35 percent stake in Yahoo Inc <YHOO.O> when it was publicly listed for some
$100 million which has now turned into some $28 billion.

He said the Internet industry still had a lot of growth potential.

In an informal poll of the audience, he found that some 75 percent believed there was an Internet stock bubble while 95 percent believed the Internet
industry would become bigger than the PC industry.

"Just do some simple arithmetic. The market capitalisation of the PC industry is $6 trillion and the combined value of pure Internet companies is $1.1
trillion; according to this poll Internet stocks can grow by a factor of six," Son said.

"It may be a bubble but it is going up," he added.


William Joy, founder and chief scientist of Sun Microsystems <SUNW.O>, also said the Internet would not remain a U.S. phenomenon and the next
developments could take place "anywhere were there is a university".

Joy said he expected there to be six seperate webs, with different uses and technologies, that would be interconnected.

The first web is the classic personal computer type web, where people sit in front of the machine, with a keyboard and a mouse. The second web he
called a web of information centred on sophisticated mobile telephones or digital assistants.

A third web would be an entertainment web, with machines different from PCs.

The fourth would be a "web driven by voice" in which the user talks to machines and things such as a door or a refrigerator, or all kinds of other
applications that now use a key pad such as phone order systems.

"Unless you lost your voice you can always use it," he said.

While companies have already carved out their positions on the first three webs, the fourth is still up for grabs.

A fifth web is already growing rapidly, the electronic commerce web for which Joy predicted that mobile phones would become the preferred method
of payment, with credit card companies and phone companies fighting for market share.

The sixth web is still in its infancy. Joy called it "the pervasive computer web" in which chips are fitted everywhere.

"I can have a mobile phone in the collar of my dog and when she runs away I can call my dog and ask her to come back," he said.

"For the cat it is more difficult because she won`t come back when I ask her. But with a GPS chip in her collar I can take the car and find out where
she is and bring her home."
"It may be a bubble but it is going up," he added.

Ist das nicht ein toller Satz, den Mr. Softbank
von sich gegeben hat?

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