Tag Archives: NetRatings Italia S.r.l.

Podcasting Is Big, Led By Mac Lovers

Podcasting is big. Well, not as big as paying bills online, but almost as big as blogs. According to Nielsen//NetRatings (PDF file), 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population are downloading audio podcasts. That’s more than 9 million people. But in case you get all excited about that, compare it with viewing and paying bills online (51.6 percent) or online job hunting, (24.6 percent). Still it’s bigger than I thought. Videocasting is also popular, at about 4 percent of the population, which is slightly less than the blogging population (4.8 percent) and a touch larger than the online dating population (3.9 percent).

Most of these folk are, unsurprisingly, young. They’re also Apple fans — and not just in terms of using iPods. Audio and video podcasters (i.e. the folk producing the stuff) are more than three times as likely to be using a Mac (known by the fact they’re using Safari). Given that they’re also two times as likely to be using Firefox, this Mac figure could be higher. Macworld is also the largest visited podcast site by some margin. This is interesting, and perhaps another sign, if one were needed, that the iPod is having a huge impact on the sales of other Apple products.

Hong Kongers Flock Online

The folks at Nielsen//NetRatings have released their latest Global NetView Analysis (PDF only) which shows, as they put it, that ‘the majority of usage growth has come from increased frequency of access or user session growth. Australia, France, Hong Kong and Italy saw double-digit growth in the number of monthly user sessions (see Table 2). In comparison, the U.S. experienced no growth, second to last in the rankings.’

To me, though, the most interesting part is how much time Hong Kongers spent online last month Nielsen time online hours compared to anyone else (22 hours), including Japanese (15 hours) and Americans (14 hours).

This is new: It represents significant (25%) growth over last year Nielsen time online yoyg and, as Nielsen//NetRatings points out, compares strikingly with the U.S., where people actually spent less time online than they did in the same month last year.

I have no idea why so many Hong Kongers spent nearly every waking moment online last month. Perhaps it was the weather. I’ll be up there later this month. I’ll ask around.

Goodbye To The Browser?

Here’s some more interesting end-of-year stuff from Nielsen//NetRatings: a report issued today (PDF file) says that three out of every four home and work Internet users access the Internet using a non-browser based Internet application, particularly media players, instant messengers and file sharing applications. “With 76 percent of Web surfers using Internet applications, functionality has grown beyond the browser to become a fundamental piece of the overall desktop,” said Abha Bhagat, senior analyst Nielsen//NetRatings. “It’s become harder to distinguish when you’re on the Internet, blurring the lines between what’s sitting on the desktop and what’s coming from the World Wide Web.”

According to the report, the top five applications are Windows Media Player, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger Service and Real Player. Of these top five applications, Windows Media has the largest active user reach at 34 percent. AOL Instant Messenger was next at 20 percent, followed by Real Player also at 20 percent, MSN Messenger Service at 19 percent and Yahoo! Messenger Service, which reaches 12 percent of the active user base.

Interesting. But what does it actually tell us? First off, we shouldn’t get confused by the data. This doesn’t mean that folks are eschewing the browser, just that a lot of other programs are also connecting to the Internet (where is e-mail in all this?). Second, if Real Networks and MSN Messenger are anything to go by, a lot of these programs access the Internet without the user doing anything (or even knowing about it) so does this actually count? Lastly, there’s been plenty written already about how Microsoft is moving past the browser to incorporate similar functionality into its Office and other products — say Microsoft Word 2003’s Research Pane, for example — so it’s clear the big boys would have us move to more proprietary, locked-in environments, which all of the top five applications have in common. We’re not so much witnessing a demographic change as a deliberate shove by the main players.

My wish list? I’d like to see all of these players stop hoodwinking the end-user by loading their programs into the start-up queue automatically (you know who you are). It’s deliberately misleading (read: sleazy), it hogs resources and it skews data like Nielsen’s. I’d also like to see AOL, MSN and Yahoo all agree to share their instant messaging lists so folk like me don’t have to use great alternatives like Trillian to pull together our disparate buddy networks (Trillian will lump all your different Instant Messaging accounts into one easy to view window, minus all the ads and annoying pop-ups).

I see no danger in the browser gradually being phased out for plenty of web-related tasks. But, if the Internet has really become ‘part of the desktop’ let’s try to make it a place where ordinary folk can hang out without too much hassle.

Online Holiday Spending Throws Up Some Kinks

I think we might have said this last year (and the year before) but this holiday appears to have been the Big One for spending online. According to a report by Goldman Sachs, Harris Interactive and Nielsen//NetRatings (‘the eSpending Report’) the total amount spent online was $15.8 billion, up a whopping 37% from 2002. (They don’t say this was in the U.S., but I’m assuming it is.)

There’s some interesting ticklers in the details too: While every category went up, a lot more was spent on practically everything except music this year. While folk seemed to spent a lot on clothes ($3.1 billion spent, up 40% over 2002), the biggest increase was in DVD and video ($1.4 billion, up 58%), a jump that could be explained largely by the rising popularity in DVD players, one of the biggest selling consumer items this year.

But it’s the meagre 20% rise in online music spending that gets me. They splashed out only $790 million this year — a bit more than half of what they spent on books or video. Now while some of this discrepancy may be blamed on the rise of the DVD — they weren’t available in such numbers last year, they’re usually sold in the same store as music CDs — it doesn’t really hold water when you compare it to the books category, which has been available for years online (at least 1996, if not earlier) and yet also showed an impressive 39% growth, with folk spending $1.4 billion on tomes this year. Could this either be a sign of the lingering appeal of online file sharing, suspicion about the spread of ‘hobbling technologies’ that restrict usage of CDs, or a growing lack of interest in what is on offer at current prices?

I’ve asked Nielsen for more data, so perhaps there’s another explanation for this.

News: Internet Gets Older, So To Speak

 The old ‘uns are getting online. Nielsen//NetRatings reports (PDF file) that senior citizens age 65 and older were the fastest growing age group online, surging 25 percent year over year in October 2003.
 
Nielsen//NetRatings also found that in addition to outpacing senior males in audience growth, the rise in usage by female seniors was greater than the increase in usage by senior males, if you get my drift. “As a whole, the Internet audience is continuing to become more representative of the general population,” said Greg Bloom, senior Internet analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings.

News: Confusion

 I kinda liked this correction from online survey/ratings firm Nielsen//NetRatings:
In today’s report from Nielsen//NetRatings, we inaccurately reported the brand Blunt Truth as an educational resource for marijuana. Blunt Truth is an online game site and is the second most popular site for teens aged 12-17. We apologize for this inaccuracy and any confusion this may have caused.
No wonder kids these days are so confused.