Emerging Industry Overview: Web Portals and Online Communities

Industry Snapshot

Often considered synonymous with "search engines," Web portals are actually far broader, though most include search engines in their arsenals. Although Web portals fulfill several different functions, at their most basic, they act as a sort of gateway to the World Wide Web, providing a starting point through which users can choose the direction in which they wish to go with the aid of the portal's extensive categorization and search engines. In addition, they provide original content, such as news and business headlines, online communities, private e-mail services, and shopping sites, as well as other features, such as chat rooms and customization options.

As the Web became increasingly central to the world of commerce, and vice versa, Web portals assumed a more commercial presence, acting not only as a central medium for companies to advertise and reach customers but also often acting as online merchants themselves. The impact that the Internet has had on commerce has been substantial, as e-commerce represents a growing percentage of revenues across various business sectors.