Last March, while delivering the keynote address at Web Design 2000 in Sydney, Australia, I had the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of Australia’s brightest and most talented Web developers. What stood out was their thirst for knowledge and the belief that they were far behind North America in adoption of Internet technologies and methodologies.
The combination of these two facts sent shivers down my spine, and you should start feeling them soon.
Recently, it has been easy to be complacent about Canada’s adoption of the Internet. After all, we adopted the Internet early on and have one of the highest penetration rates anywhere in the world. Yet, Canada continues to be saddled with legacy Web site designs techniques. We are always looking to the U.S. for guidance in the belief that American sites are better and that Canadian sites can’t compete.
Why else would virtually every major Canadian company only want .com addresses, when they could easily use a .ca domain address. Recent changes (effective Nov. 1, 2000) by CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, are going to make getting a .ca even easier, yet my gut tells me that Canadian companies are going to continue to market themselves as .coms for a long time to come.
Unlike other countries around the world, Canadians like to pretend that a .com domain means more then it does. Other companies around the world are proud to use their country’s top level domain when it’s just as easy for them as Canadian companies to acquire a .com. In Australia, they’ve use .com.au, in the UK it’s .co.uk, in France .co.fr, etc. In countries like Australia, you can’t watch more then a couple of minutes of TV, pick up any publication or listen to the radio more then a couple of minutes with hearing something “.com.au.”
These countries are proud of their home-based business and understand the value of distinguishing themselves from the XXXX.coms already on the Internet. This stance positions them better once they figure out how to go after the global market by way of the Internet. Beyond their desire to distinguish themselves from the plethora of .coms in the world, they have something that is lacking in Canada. They have a thirst for knowledge, and the desire to learn from North America’s mistakes. They openly admit that they don’t know it all and seek out the answers.
Why this difference? Perhaps it’s just that they’re not yet jaded by all the Internet news that we were bombarded with a few year ago, or perhaps it’s just that their Internet community has grown-up outside of the American shadow. Whatever it is, they’re getting ready to leap over us and the U.S. as well.
For the past few years, Canadians have been focusing on competing against the Americans on the Internet. Well, get ready for the battle. With Canada’s current mindset and complacency, Canadians better get ready to see Australia and others leap frog right over them in the adoption of the Internet and in the launch of multitudes of Internet commerce sites to service the emerging on-line market places of Asia and the South Pacific.
There may be many of you out there that disagree with me. Perhaps you are on my side in telling corporate Canada to wake up and look beyond our boarders. Whichever it is, I hope that you can start proving me wrong.
Yes, several Canadian companies have used the Internet to break into the U.S. market, but less then 50 per cent of all Internet users live in the U.S., so what about the rest of the world? No matter how you look at it, Canadians and the corporations that employ them better start thinking global when it comes to Internet commerce.
K’necht is president of K’nechtology Inc., a Toronto-based consulting company. He can be reached at [email protected].