Significantly more people are using the Web to send pictures and videos, shop, download music, play games and do their banking, according a study that compares last year's habits with those of 2000. The study was released Thursday by Ipsos-Reid, a consumer marketing research firm.
Online shopping has, according to the study. Nearly two-thirds of 2,900 Web surfers Ipsos-Reid surveyed said that they had at some point in time bought something online, up from 36 percent of those surveyed in 2000. The biggest markets for online shopping, according to the 12-country study, are in the United States and the United Kingdom, where 77 percent and 68 percent of Web users surveyed, respectively, have made purchases online.
That surge comes too late, however, for many now defunct Internet start-ups that tried to capitalize on people's urge to spend online.
"In spite of the dot-com meltdown, the Internet is still going strong and is advancing steadily," said Gus Schattenberg, vice president of global research at Ipsos-Reid. "There is no sign that we've reached any kind of a plateau, and the Internet is becoming a more important part of everyone's daily life."
The percentage of respondents who tend to their finances online has nearly doubled, from 20 percent in 2000 to 37 percent last year, according to the findings. Online banking is most prevalent in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, the study said.
Downloading music files has also increased in popularity, to theof the music industry. The percentage of Web surfers downloading music files online increased to 44 percent last year, up from 38 percent in 2000. The largest jump in music downloading took place in China, Russia, Mexico and Brazil, the study said.
Also, more than two-thirds of respondents reported sending or receiving pictures or video clips online in 2002. Ipsos-Reid hadn't measured that activity in previous surveys, so no comparison data on that particular trend was available.
The growth in Internet use will continue apace, the study predicted, with the advent of wireless phones with picture- and video-swapping features, the growing demand of digital cameras, falling prices for personal computers and Web access, and the introduction of new Internet-surfing devices.
The research firm did point to a potential downside to the upswing in Web use.
"There may be some social consequences--things such as information overload," said Schattenberg. "Surfing the Internet can be a solitary activity instead of a social activity, and it's one more demand on people's time."
Ipsos-Reid, a North American division of Paris-based Ipsos, has been tracking Internet use since 1999. The latest study was based on interviews with 2,900 active Internet users in 12 countries in May and June 2002. The study was underwritten by five unnamed corporate sponsors, most of them in the telecommunications industry, according to an Ipsos-Reid representative.