RealTime IT News

Study: Search Engine Use Climbing

Since the dawn of the Internet era, e-mail has been the killer app. E-mail is still the most used Internet app, but search engine usage is rapidly gaining, according to new data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and comScore Media Metrix.

According to Pew Internet & American Life data, 41 percent of the Internet-using population in 2005, approximately 59 million people, made use of a search engine on a typical day in September.

The 2005 data represents a 55 percent increase over June 2004 when only 30 percent of respondents used a search engine on a typical day.

ComScore Media Metrix's data shows an increase in search engine usage from 2004 to 2005 of 23 percent. That is 60.7 million users in September 2005 up from 49.3 million in September 2004.

E-mail remains high on the Internet usage list with Pew reporting that in September, 52 percent of Internet users sent or received mail, up from 45 percent in June 2004.

Users are also spending more time with Web-based e-mail than search engines, according to data from comScore. They spent only 3.5 minutes on search engines on an average day while they spent 24 minutes on Web-based e-mail.

Pew notes in its data memo that the more time spent on e-mail is not surprising, "given the average time of a search compared with the average time of reading and writing e-mail."

Though there is a difference between the numbers of users that use e-mail and search on a daily basis, Pew Internet Project data shows that almost an equal amount of Internet users have used e-mail (91 percent) or a search engine (90 percent).

"Search engines are obviously a critical vehicle in reaching consumers during the buy cycle, but they also offer a rich source for consumer profiling, segmentation, and measurement of product demand," said James Lamberti, vice president of comScore Networks in a statement. "To-date, we have only witnessed the preliminary impact of search engines on e-commerce."

Following e-mail and search, the top online activities are obtaining news (46 percent), job-related research (29 percent), instant messaging (18 percent), online banking (18 percent), reading blogs (3 percent) and participating in online auctions (3 percent).