The market wasn’t nearly as big as anticipated and the products were not nearly as good as imagined–at the time.
When Netscape peaked in the late 90s, we had 90 percent market share and 50 million users. The total Consumer Internet market was 55 million people. That’s about 36X smaller than today’s 2B. Worse yet, over 1/2 of those 55 million were dialup users. In addition, to horrible bandwidth and latency, the technology products were very crude in other ways. Programming languages were radically less functional, hardware was literally a hundred times more expensive, and there was no virtualization or cloud computing or AJAX. Constrained by such an early and weak technology platform, companies built poor applications. As a result, the expectations of what the Internet would be radically outstripped the reality of what it was. And hence the great crash of 2000 and 2001.
Since then and over the last 10 years, everything has gotten better. Much better. Servers moved from proprietary systems made by Sun, IBM, and HP to commodity hardware at a fraction of the price while radically improving in performance. The open source movement dramatically reduced the cost and improved the quality of systems software. Average consumer bandwidth increased 100 fold due to cable modems, DSL, and high-speed wireless networks. Cloud computing, which was not available then, now enables companies to build massively scalable products with very little initial capital outlay. The combination of the Internet and open source transformed the functionality in modern programming tools, increasing developer productivity 10 fold. The resulting applications have been so easy to use that even older generations of consumers now rapidly adopt new technology like Facebook. And there are 2 billion people on the Internet. All of these factors have led to an exciting new set of leading companies, including a special few which grew to over a billion dollars in annual revenue in less than 5 years. Welcome to the great Internet Boom of 2011.
Resource: Bubble Trouble? I Don’t Think So