If skepticism really is healthy, we're in fine shape. Despite the hype about so-called application-service providers (ASPs)--which let you rent software and run it over the Net--small businesses aren't sure the new players are industrial-strength. Only 12% of even the tech-savviest small companies say they would use an ASP, found Cahners InStat Group."That's a tiny little number," says Cahners' Kneko Burney. What's holding them back? Lousy Internet connections make entrepreneurs wary of running software online. ASPs have short track records (page F18). And most of that vintage shrink-wrapped software still works just fine.

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