Online bookseller could become the sole surviving standalone etailer, according to internet pioneer Marc Andreessen.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Andreessen, who helped develop the Netscape browser, forecast hard times ahead for dotcoms.

“The US is in the middle of a massive champagne hangover, with retrenchment and retreat,” he explained. “In the dotcom frenzy, companies were told to go big, or go home. All the companies formed like that, except for Amazon, are failing.”

In bad news for online buyers, Andreessen also predicted the end of discounted goods and free shipping on products bought via the web. “The era when everything will be free is over,” he said.

Andreessen added that attitudes are returning to the early 1990s, when companies were actually expected to make a profit. “Then, it was taken as a given that companies had to have earnings and revenues,” he reminisced. “At Netscape, we were cash flow positive in less than a year.”

News source: Financial Times