Technology Nov 2007
Internet habits mature
Online curve continues
While Internet growth in New Zealand is going through a hiatus as people weigh up the cost of broadband and impending changes in the market, the worldwide growth curve continues on an exponential upward spiral.
In 1996, when the web was just two years old, there were only 48 million people routinely using the Internet, by 2006 it had escalated to 1.1 billion users and by July 2007 another 730 million surfers had subscribed. That meant 17.8 percent of the world population now had Internet access.
The web had 1.8 billion pages in 2000 and by 2007 this had burgeoned to around 135 billion pages. The phenomenal growth in content and users was continuing beyond anyone’s expectations with research group IDC predicting another 500 million users would be added by 2010.
Today over 60 percent of the world’s Internet users have access to broadband speeds (typically 2Mbit/sec and beyond) either at home, at work or school. The number of email boxes grew from 253 million in 1998 to nearly 1.6 billion in 2006 and the number of emails sent grew three times faster than the number of people emailing.
A Statistics New Zealand survey showed 739,700 people were still using dial-up connections, although broadband had jumped 18.5 percent to 724,600 in the six months since September 2006. There were 57 Internet service providers (ISPs) with nearly 1.5 million subscribers, up only 6 percent on the previous period.
In the year to July 2007 Nielson//NetRatings and its associated companies suggested 84.5 percent of New Zealanders had Internet access, 69.9 percent from home and 46.9 percent with broadband of some kind.
So what were we doing online? The main reasons for logging on were for local news and information, to access search engines, entertainment, overseas news and information, travel, auction sites, sports, jobs, properties, telecommunications, finance, government, computers and electronics, family and education.
Nielson//NetRatings said 75 percent of surfers had engaged in Internet banking, while 68 percent read an electronic publication, 55 percent had received or paid a bill online, 50 percent had downloaded software and 52 percent had watched a video, up from 38 percent on 2006.
Auction sites were also hot (34%) and there was a slight increase in those who investigated a purchase and then acted on it. Online credit card use showed a massive increase from 28 percent to 43 percent.
ComScore, revealed in March 2007 that 1.9 million New Zealanders aged 15 and over viewed 3.6 billion pages of Internet content and went online every other day where they spent a total of 20.4 hours online each month. The top three sites visited were Microsoft (1.42 million), Google (1.39 million), and Yahoo! (1.1 million). TradeMe and government sites rounded out the top five most visited locations garnering 977,000 and 621,000 visitors respectively. Next in line were Bebo.com, Wikipedia, autotrader.com, eBay and Cnet networks.
Neilson//NetRating’s overview of the most popular sites in October, based on page impressions and unique browsers, saw TradeMe with well over double the overall hits (2.69 million) of nearest site Microsoft Network (1.02 million) then in descending order NZ Herald, Stuff.co.nz, Air New Zealand, ASB and WestPac banks, the White Pages and Yellow Pages the National Bank, TVNZ, TV3, BNZ, Vodafone, Telecom, Xtra, the MetService, Seek and Wises and ANZ bank.
There was no question New Zealand Internet users were beginning to establish firm habits beyond random web searching and email, spending more time viewing news and entertainment, and even regularly viewing video clips, as part of their online activities.
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