I remember nearly a decade ago when the garish orange colours of the EasyEverything internet cafes started appearing in London and was thinking about that this morning a bit.
I was an early adopter of the internet and amongst us cool people, there was a slight sneering attitude to the internet cafe – although I once used one once when I was out and had just had a phone call offering me a job and I was desperate to tell people about my good fortune.
It did seem though to be a very exciting time, as more and more people were being introduced to the wonders of websites and emails – although their busiest times were apparently late at night when half drunk young adults who hadn’t found a random shag in the pubs/clubs logged onto the internet chatrooms in a last gasp chance to score for the evening.
Supplies of Nescafe coffee or coke drinks helped sober the teens up to the level that they might actually be competent in bed if they did manage to pull in the cafes.
Eventually, though computer costs started to fall to more affordable levels – then the emergence of ADSL which didn’t need a visit from the teleco engineer or cost a fortune pretty much killed off the idea of the internet cafe.
Or did it?
While you wont find an internet cafe on every high street as once seemed almost the case – you will find a coffee shop or bookstore on every high street, and they invariably offer Wi-Fi internet access.
As I sit here this morning in the coffee shop, I am surrounded by people tapping away on their laptops, checking emails and websites and working on spreadsheets.
I am sitting in an internet cafe!
The market has changed from a venue which provided cheap computers and vile coffee to a venue which offers decent (or at least passable) coffee and you supply your own laptop computer.
So, the internet cafe never really went away, it just replaced cheap nasty shops covered in post it signage – or the garish orange of the Easy Group, with the sofas and more subtle hues of the coffee chains.
Amusingly (or not), I just visited the EasyInternetCafe website – as the company is still limping along. At the bottom of the website is the usual “we recommend” blurb about which web browser to use.
They recommend – get ready for this – Internet Explorer 4.0.