Two new companies are turning to a combination of computer-based on-line information services and interactive CD-ROM disks that can store dozens of product catalogs.
If all goes as planned -- and the history of home shopping technology suggests that it will not -- shoppers may become cyber-Santas, soaring through virtual malls where the only creature stirring is the computer mouse. But most experts predict the new services' impact will not be felt until holiday season 1995, rather than this year.
"People don't have enough time," said Thomas C. Burt, chief operating officer of 2Market, a computer-based shopping service announced this week by Apple Computer Inc., America Online Inc. and Medior Inc.
Another new company, Contentware Inc. of New York, has persuaded J.C. Penney, Spiegel, Marshall Field and others to place catalogs on 400,000 CD-ROM disks and on the Internet.