Tech Industry

Top home-use software ranked

A Media Metrix study says RealPlayer and the ICQ chat client software each picked up more than 2.8 million new users last quarter.

Streaming media firm RealNetwork's RealPlayer came in as the highest gainer in a survey of the 50 most-used home software applications, with Mirabilis's ICQ placing second.

Among home PC users, RealPlayer picked up 4.4 million users while ICQ's following grew by 2.8 million during the second quarter of 1998, according to a new Media Metrix study comparing usage with the previous quarter. The survey tracked 28,000 users, monitoring software and hardware usage.

RealPlayer's big numbers follow on the heels of big user gains reported last month, when the streaming media firm announced that 3.5 million users downloaded its software, setting a company record.

Top home-use software
June '98 rank Application / software Unique users (000) Percent reach March '98 rank
1 Microsoft Office 28,264 39 1
2 Microsoft Word 22,618 31.2 2
3 Microsoft Notepad 19,982 27.5 3
4 Microsoft Entertainment Pack 14,132 19.5 4
5 InstallShield 13,811 19 6
6 Interplay Solitaire 13,490 18.6 8
7 Microsoft Works 13,214 18.2 5
8 Microsoft Freecell 12,129 16.7 7
9 Intuit Quicken 10,261 14.1 9
10 RealNetworks RealPlayer 9,836 13.6 24
27 Mirabilis ICQ 6,049 8.3 39
Source: Media Metrix

RealPlayer is a streaming audio and video software product that enables users to download Web multimedia. Mirabilis's ICQ is a popular instant messaging service. Both software programs can be downloaded for free. Mirabilis is a subsidiary of Internet service giant America Online.

The rise of new computer purchases and the fast-selling PalmPilot are among factors that have contributed to a fertile market for these software gains, as new software is beginning to surfaces for users sporting speedy new machines.

"Potentially people have upgraded their systems so they can handle these applications," a Media Metrix spokeswoman said.

The study also revealed that working at home is on the rise. "A lot of people are using applications they would use at work at home," the spokeswoman said.

While RealPlayer and ICQ stood out as the biggest gainers, Microsoft software held nearly all of the top ten positions in terms of number of overall users, with Microsoft Office, Word, and Notepad at the head of the list.

RealNetwork's RealPlayer, Intuit's Quicken, and Interplay's Solitaire were the only non-Microsoft products to make the top ten. The new figures boosted RealPlayer into elite company, up from number 24 in overall number of home users. ICQ moved up to number 27 from last quarter's position at number 39.

The new data underscores RealNetworks's efforts to gain market share after a high publicized confrontation with rival Microsoft over alleged compatibility issues between RealPlayer and Windows software. Last July, RealNetworks chief executive officer Rob Glaser went before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify that Microsoft's Media Player "disabled" beta versions of RealPlayer, allegations that the software giant refuted.

Media Metrix claims to be the pioneer of the monitoring software used to track the studies' data. The company likened its study results to a Nielsen rating that marketers use extensively.