In 1994 when I was first playing around with the Web, catalog publishing was a common example of something that would eventually shift to the Web over time. Last week, Thomas Register announced that they were discontinuing their print publication in favor of the Internet in a move that reflected “an over 10–year transition to the Internet as the primary information source of the industrial market.”
I love this shit. Do you remember Industry.Net which morphed into Nets, Inc. – run by Jim Manzi (ex-CEO of Lotus) straight down the tubes in the Spring of 1997 over three years before the Internet bubble peaked? Perot Systems ended up picking up the whole thing for about $9 million in one of the most “gossipy” failures of 1997.
Nets was going to do what Thomas Register did, but on the Web instead of print. A decade later, Thomas Register will be 100% web-based. If you are looking for an Orifice Plate Flow Meter, a DC to DC Transformer, or a Cryogenic Solenoid Valve, you no longer need to buy an expensive book every year. And – it only took them 10 years to get there.