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Nielsen Report Says Internet Usage Flattening 105

Posted by timothy
from the adding-to-the-divide dept.
Ant writes "This BetaNews story says an analysis of major Internet markets revealed that the time netizens spend online at home has come close to hitting a plateau in many major markets. Nielsen//NetRatings, a syndicated rating system for Internet audience measurement, measured markets in Brazil, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States and found them to be maturing. In contrast, Australia, France, Hong Kong, Italy and Japan experienced double-digit growth. According to Nielsen//NetRatings' press release (PDF) and current news story concluded that mature markets are in wait of "the next big thing" whereas emerging markets were rife with opportunity for companies online. Some of the growth engines cited in the report is the proliferation of broadband and societal changes in media consumption..."
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Nielsen Report Says Internet Usage Flattening

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:25PM (#11985524)
    Apparently it's impossible to average more than 24 hours online a day.
  • by Nice2Cats (557310) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:27PM (#11985537)
    After all the song and dance about how we all have to switch to IPv6 because we are running out of numbers right now, or tomorrow, or next week for sure, does this mean that we can stick with IPv4 instead?

    I'm still waiting for things to fall apart with IPv4...

    • by gnuman99 (746007) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:56PM (#11985681)
      IPv4 fell apart long time ago. The problem is people don't see it. A parallel is if you go to heavily poluted areas like Bangladesh, where the leading cause of death for traffic cops is lung cancer, people will not see polution as a major concern! Even on days when you can't see half a mile thanks to smog, people say they need more roads and want a car. They don't even mention they want clean air and a quiet environment.

      Exactly the same crap is occuring with IPv4. Sure, there is lots of IP addresses, if everyone gets one number that changes all the time. Then you have to be a second-class "internet citizen", always stuck behind a NAT. Want to run a game server? maybe some bittorrent? Then you have to jump though hoops forwarding freaking ports all the time.

      And let's not get started with port scans, virus probes and spammers wasting your bandwith. And that's on a new IP address. Some places can get a GB/mo of crap like this.

      IPv6 solves all of these problems. No more NAT cruft or virus scans. A new IP address, when not in use, is acutally *clean* (no traffic). IPv6 solve many, many more problems than just increase number of addresses.

      Oh, most people might not know or care, but has anyone seen some of the enormous routing tables on the internet? IPv4 is soooo fragmented, that the routing tables are now a serious problem in scallability of the internet. And everyone is paying higher prices thanks to this.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yeah, no one would ever span or port scan if there were *more* numbers. Naw, that would *never* happen.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          With IPv6, you can't portscan all DSL users on a given network. You can only portscan hosts you know addresses for. Anything else is futile. :P

          This alone would bring an end to all viruses spreading by random IP hopping.

  • The Plateau (Score:1, Redundant)

    by yotto (590067)
    What they don't say is that the "time online per user per day" plateau they have reached is 24 hours.
  • by wasted (94866) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:31PM (#11985554)
    The statistics in the news article show time online in February 2005. I would expect a decline in time online compared to February 2004, since February 2004 had 29 days and February 2005 had 28 days.

    Then again, maybe they compensated for that descrepancy when computing their statistics.
  • How? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KillerDeathRobot (818062) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:32PM (#11985563) Homepage
    How do they get these net-ratings? A cursory glance of their website didn't reveal much. Is it the same way they get tv ratings? Like, where they send you a little book to fill out and 5 dollars for your time?
    • by gniv (600835)
      That's not how they get the TV ratings. They actually have hardware devices in a number of homes (a statistically significant sample) and they monitor usage.
      • Re:How? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        With anonymity so important to Internet culture, especially compared to TV viewing, isn't their sample skewed, self-selected by willingness to be recorded? Wouldn't the most obsessive Net consumers, porn surfers, tend to bring the average way up, while also being the most underrepresented in their samples? And how do they rigorously account for differences in willingness to be logged, across cultures like East Asian and Western European? Maybe mostly the willingness to be recorded has saturated in the US.
    • Re:How? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You get selected (much like Nielsen's TV thing), they send you a CD and the program redirects your IE browser to their local proxy, and it also watches for what processes are running on the computer (yes, I have this program, and yes, I'm AC).
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:40PM (#11985610)
    The headline of the BetaNews site seems misleading to me. Reading "Internet Usage Flattening", you might come to the conclusion that the use of the Internet is not growing.

    It appears that the actual Nielson report is just showing that the amount of time an individual user spends on the Internet is not growing. They don't appear to be making any judgements as to additional users coming online.

    From data that I have seen, there are a large number of older people that have no desire to use the internet - ever. As the older population that has never been exposed to the internet and never will dies, they will be replaced by people that grew up with an intimate knowledge of the internet providing substantial organic growth.
    • From data that I have seen, there are a large number of older people that have no desire to use the internet - ever. Am I the only one astounded by some peoples' disinterest in the 'net? I mean... kings used to spend a fortune on what, today, would amount to a small local library. And they would consider that a huge resource, in the knowledge is power sense. I'm sure I recall historical tales about the quest for the sum of human knowledge. The Internet, by comparison, really is getting close to the sum
      • Sadly, I think you're probably overestimating the intellectual curiosity of the average adult human.

        That factor, coupled with the stereotypical inability of older folk to really internalize new technological advances (yes I know there are plenty who do, talking about averages here). My uncle is a leader in engineering research but still does all his information acquisition (including the geeky recreational type) the old-fashioned way. There is of course the issue that much of the 'net can't really be consi
    • You're right about ages reference usage. If I were to graph users of our site, I"d put the mean age at 23. The largest number of users are teens up to about 35. After 35 it declines rapidly, with very few users above 50.

      A good check is on a site called Plentyoffish.com Do a search for users in age ranges, you'll see a better representation. Plenty of Fish is the only completely free dating site I know of that has a good user base for reference. I am not connected to it in any business sense, other than w
  • Less use for me. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SteveXE (641833) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:41PM (#11985614)
    I use the net alot less now, got a girlfriend that keeps me happy (as opposed to my ex who kept me miserable), ever since I met her the internet has lost its boredom killing magic and has since become a source of boredom. Of course i still visit /. many times a day, I am still a geek after all.
  • All major telecoms now route calls over IP; massive private networks now exist that are based on IP technology; my stereo talks to my portable music player using IP.

    The internet is one of the most valuable human made public goods on the planet and it must remain open and standards based.

    Surveys that suggest that the internet is "over" or was a failed experiment because kids in the suburbs have stopped downloading music are not only wrong they have an ulterior motive.
    • Surveys that suggest that the internet is "over" or was a failed experiment because kids in the suburbs have stopped downloading music are not only wrong they have an ulterior motive.

      Translation: everyone who disagrees with me is not only wrong, but also evil.
      • Translation: everyone who disagrees with me is not only wrong, but also evil.

        Heh. That sounds like one of theose weird MMPI2 questions. Like "I would have been more successful if people didn't have it in for me", or "Everything is coming true just like the bible said it would".

  • Internet and TV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fox_1 (128616) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:52PM (#11985670)
    Nielsen [nielsen-netratings.com]
    has the full report in PDF format, It was a short article

    I imagine many people are like me, when I'm hanging out watching tv(which I do on my second monitor mainly), I'm also connected to the internet, either to followup on what I saw on TV, or to see if friends are on IM, or even just because I'm board and just do a sweep of news sites. The article says:

    Nielsen//NetRatings concluded that mature markets are in wait of "the next big thing" whereas emerging markets were rife with opportunity for companies online. Some of the growth engines cited in the report is the proliferation of broadband and societal changes in media consumption.

    I'm waiting for a more fully interactive TV/Computer/Internet I think, more then TIVO, and Digital Cable has given me.
    • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:56PM (#11985683) Homepage Journal
      "mature markets?"

      "next big thing?"

      hmmmm... yeah, pr0n does spur growth in whatever it gets into.

      wait, that sounded dirty.
      • In so many ways - spurs, growth, whatever, into.
        Truely a line that will stand for ages.
        I read your comment earlier on the subect of growth
        I'd also say that most growth nowadays, in any market, is due to more widely available internet access. It seems that today, most businesses have broadband and have all of their computers online, which allows for employee surfing during slow time/breaks. Open, unsecured, and fee-based wireless access is available almost everywhere you go, and with more people having
        • yeah, that's exactly what i was thinking, too. I mean, I've got 3 computers at home that are always on/always online.

          My desktop machine checks for email once a minute and is constantly on AIM. If I'm not home, I get a lot of IMs that I autorespond to, and if I'm home, I may be actively engaged in a conversation and/or surfing the web, sending email, etc.

          Frequently, when I pull my powerbook out and open it up, it auto-joins the first available, unsecured network. When I'm in the city, it almost always find
  • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @02:53PM (#11985675) Homepage Journal
    I'd say that the japanese, and even hongkong (and that entire region) are experiencing such growth due to their proliferation of internet-enabled devices. When I was in japan, our tourguide was showing off on her phone how she can check CNN news and the weather and all sorts of cool things. Of course, I've seen all that stuff before, as current phones have that ability, but the previous year, she said that all the Americans were surprised to see that in a cell phone. Walking around NYC in recent weeks, I've noticed more and more and more people using their SideKicks, so that's more usage right there; that's a full-blown web browser.

    I'd also say that most growth nowadays, in any market, is due to more widely available internet access. It seems that today, most businesses have broadband and have all of their computers online, which allows for employee surfing during slow time/breaks. Open, unsecured, and fee-based wireless access is available almost everywhere you go, and with more people having handheld and laptop devices, and all these portable gaming platforms with access, the numbers are only going to increase.

    Even though usage seems to be leveling off in the US, I say in the next year, it's gonna spike again. Especially since there's so many regions where broadband isn't available and with cable modem/DSL trying to hit those markets.
    • One of the things that really prevents internet time becoming large in Japan is simply because the cost of electricity is astronomical. People with laptops will literally go to the library to charge it just so they don't have to pay to power it. That is also why in a country that is nominally so rich(2nd biggest economy in the world) a large number of people only use their cell phone for internet access....
  • From the press release ...
    The latest Nielsen//NetRatings global research shows that the majority of usage growth has come from increased frequency of access or user session growth.

    Which other type of "usage growth" am I too stupid to think of while assuming that they are talking about "average time" spent on the net on a "per user basis"?

    CC.
  • If the music and movie biz would get their act together and not worry about non-existent lost sales and release non-restricted content on the internet, its use, and their pocketbooks, would still be zooming to new heights.

    But that's not likely to happen.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @03:02PM (#11985718) Homepage Journal
    Actually, it's getting to the point where Internet usage is impossible to measure/meter, because the Internet is increasingly woven directly into the fabric of our lives. The idea of sitting around and "using the Internet" is about as obsolete as the idea of turning on your modem and dialing into your ISP -- in other words, not obsolete yet, but definitely on its way there at a high speed (no pun intended).

    We have AIM on our cell phones. Some of us have computers turned on 24/7 with the speakers turned up loud enough that we'll hear it anywhere in the house when we get new mail or someone in real time wants our attention. We have our telephones and even televisions integrated into the 'net now. Internet usage is everywhere, it's always on, and it's going to be impossible to say "I got online at 7:00 and I stayed online until 9:00."
  • by starwed (735423) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @03:02PM (#11985720)
    Sitting around all day doing nothing but playing warcraft and looking at porn doesn't burn too many calries... oops, misread the headline. :)
  • I just finished downloading MD 10.2 rc1. I thing the debian iso's (the complete set) would have helped more, maybe next time.
  • by Phayyde (192873) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @03:39PM (#11985925)
    Nielsen are the guys that keep TV programming dumbed down by reporting that all consumers want to see is dancing poodles, reruns of sit-coms and bad news.

    Don't believe anything you hear from Nielsen. Their studies are unscientific bunk. To the extent they are given credibility, they will dumb down the internet too.

    • A recent junk TV commercial I've seen advertises magic, magnetic wrist bracelets (or something like that, I never paid much attention to it - lots of obsure celebrity "personal endorsements" and dubious customer testimonies) and cites Nielsen as a source of marketing research data for the product.

      Either the marketing company is misrepresenting or Nielsen has sunk to a new low.

  • Nielsen Report Says Internet Usage Flattening

    ...Among the users they track.

    In case you don't know, Nielsen Net Ratings works by giving a family some software to install that acts as a proxy between them and the rest of the Net. You get paid a savings bond every 6 months for as long as you keep this installed. Your only interaction with it is selecting which user is on the computer by way of a dialog box with radio buttons that appears if the system has been idle for a while and at system start up.

    Th
    • Its not exactly the same.
      Your 150 random people from the phonebook will be a relativly good average (although it gets worse, with cell phone only people, ect, a few years ago it was better).
      But those kind of messuring they do is higly biased, because IMHO most people who really USE the web wouldnt agree installing their spyware... er "proxy".
    • There are statistical equations that measure the relative accuracy of your results if you have a truly random sample. The trouble is that it's hard to get a truly random sample.
    • another part of the problem is that in many cases you don't want a truly random sample. You want a random sample that is representative of the population. If their random sample was all white or all male it wouldn't be very good, would it? To be able to say that your statistics represent the american people your sample group has to also be representative of the american people.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How can they classify broadband in Japan and Hong Kong as "emerging" and then call Germany and the US "mature"? That's utterly absurd. It's completely the other way around.
    If anything, this seems to suggest that countries with serious broadband horsepower are pulling away from the gawking pedestrians at an ever faster clip.
    Well, it would except that both categories seem to include diverse collections of countries. Nonthless, the conlcusion they imply is hardly reflected in the numbers they gathere
  • yeh, that makes about 70 hours a week.

    gotta do mahhh johb...

  • "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." -- Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835-1910) American author, humorist
  • <BombScare> i beat the internet
    <BombScare> the end guy is hard
  • I don't know why the study would be based on time. You can't show a meaningful trend with time.

    Think about people who have transitioned from dial-up to broadband. Most folks, at least in my experience, have specific tasks they perform on the internet each day, week, whatever. Transitioning to broadband allows them to accomplish those same tasks in less time.

    For these people, their internet usage may actually go up, because they'll be able to get more done, even while the amount of time they actually sp
  • usage is definitely flattering...

    Oh, wait...

  • I'll get back up to my regular usage soon.
  • I think a lot of the growth in Japan is because the connections speeds are much faster. http://bbpromo.yahoo.co.jp/ There are more services such as TV. Japan is already pulling fiber into the home at + 100MBS. http://www.gate01.com/. And of course the wireless 3G networks. It is not uncommon to see mini laptops on trains with 3G Wireless cards at 380KBS. Of course the majority of cellphones are just used as Instant Messaging machines. You are not allowed to talk on cell phone on the commuter trains.
    • > You are not allowed to talk on cell phone on the commuter trains.

      Now there's an interesting idea. Why is this? Here in Germany it's forbidden to use a mobile while driving a car for obvious reasons (people simply ignore it and talk anyway or, worse, write SMS which technically *isn't* forbidden), but I can't think of a reason why you should ban talking on the phone being a passenger on a train.

      Can you tell more about this?
      • I am not 100% positive why cell phone use is discouraged on commuter trains. When I lived in Japan in 1996 their use on trains was ubiquitous. I think a lot of it is due to the cultural norm of respect. Perhaps, there is a generational gap and the cell phone users on the trains were most frequently the younger generations. But the regulatory power in Japan is the older generation. In fact the areas surrounding the "courtesy seating" there are signs requesting the cell phone be turned off completely. M
  • United States trend along the worldwide average of hours spent online per month at nearly 14 hours.

    I think I'm quite a few standard deviations from that mean.
  • I am a Nielsen//Netratings panelist. Their measurement tool is a Java application called Insight that runs on Windows startup. It runs as a http proxy a la Achilles, and edits IE and Netscape configs to make the browser go through the proxy. It hasn't detected Firefox, so it can't see most of my activity.

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