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Study: Internet use in U.S. homes dips

Emerging Net markets such as Hong Kong, France offer better marketing opportunities for Internet companies, research firm says.

Americans are spending slightly less time online that they did a year ago, while some of their counterparts in Asia and Europe are logging longer hours on the Net.

A study released Friday by Nielsen/NetRatings looked at how much time, on average, people spend online at home. Average usage time for U.S. citizens dipped by 2 percent from a year ago, to 13 hours and 44 minutes a month, the study showed. Hong Kong, conversely, topped the list with its per-person average almost reaching 22 hours a month. The year-over-year growth for Hong Kong was 25 percent.

The research firm said emerging Internet markets such as Australia, France, Hong Kong, Italy and Japan could be a better target for Internet companies. "Acquiring users in markets that are currently in their growth stages will lead to a loyal user base that will pay dividends for Internet companies in the future," senior Internet researcher Kaizad Gotla said in a statement.

Nielsen/NetRatings surveyed 12 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe in February 2005. Europe accounted for 70 percent of Internet usage. Other countries that showed minimal to flat growth were Brazil, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The frequency of monthly U.S. Internet access remained stagnant from a year ago as well, at 25 sessions per month. The United States was rated second to last in the rankings after Germany. Once again, Hong Kong topped the frequency rankings with users logging on an average of 30 times per month, an increase of 26 percent.