How today's killer applications died first time round

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Many of the dotcoms awash with investors' cash 10 years ago were short on sensible ways to spend it.

From inflatable boardrooms to first-class air travel and unsustainable sky-high valuations, the money was destined to run out before their ideas could produce meaningful revenues.

It was too much too soon: technology had not evolved sufficiently nor cheaply enough back then, internet audiences had not reached critical mass and business models needed refinement.

Ten years on, essential tech commodities such as storage and bandwidth are a tiny fraction of what they cost in 2000 and conditions are right for some of the best ideas to make billions for the leaders in their sectors. Here are three examples of ideas floated then, whose time has now come:

*Social networking was an early effort at social networking. It had a record first day for an initial public offering in 1998, hitting a high of $97 from an offer price of $9.

Two years later, it became a penny stock and was delisted from the Nasdaq. The company rapidly burned through the money it raised, failed to attract sufficient advertising and had only 5m unique visitors in May 2000, a fraction of Yahoo's 48m in the US.

The number of people online worldwide has grown from 390m in 2000 to 1.7bn today. US online advertising revenues have increased from $5bn to an expected $120bn in 2010, according to the Outsell research firm.

Facebook, the world's biggest social networking service, passed 400m members in February. It has studiously avoided talk of an IPO but is expected to generate more than $1bn in advertising and other revenues this year.

*Smartphones and the mobile web At the ITU Telecom World show in late 1999, mobile phone companies were showing off the first handsets to access the internet using the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) service. 3G connectivity was said to be just around the corner and, in 2000, the first camera phone appeared. But screens were small, speeds were slow, there was little of appeal to the consumer online and no clear business model for online services.

Ten years later, mobile phone subscribers have grown from 738m in 2000 to 4.3bn, 4G speeds have arrived, smartphones are the fastest growing category of handset, many touch-enabled and with large screens. The "app stores" of the Apple iPhone and its imitators offer more than 150,000 applications, games and services and downloads exceed 3bn.

*Internet TV In 1997, Microsoft bought WebTV, a Silicon Valley hardware and software company. It made a box that users could connect to their TVs and get internet access. Neither the graphics nor the speeds available were compelling. By 2001, Microsoft had dissolved its WebTV division.

Today, internet TV is ready for primetime. Microsoft sells movies and online games through its TV and internet-connected Xbox 360.

Steve Perlman, the founder of WebTV, has a new company, OnLive, which will allow console-quality games to be played over the internet on TVs later this year.

Internet channels, widgets and applets were heavily featured on TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. More than a quarter of all TVs bought by US consumers that month were connected to the internet, according to the iSuppli research firm.