11.5 Million Brits Now Online at Home

[London, ENGLAND] About 11.5 million people use the Internet at home in the
U.K., says monitoring company NetValue, an increase of three million
during 2000.

Women make up 40 percent of home Internet users, having increased
their number by 1.28 million to over four and a half million, while
so-called “silver surfers” aged 55+ are up by 0.68 million
to 2.24 million. However, children under the age of 14 account for
just 0.6 million of the total.

The figures will give a lot of encouragement to the Internet
industy in the U.K., battered by investment worries, dot-com
disasters and general economic uncertainty. They show that there
is a real audience that has continued to grow in line with
the optimistic expectations of a year or more ago.

Not only are the basic numbers up, but usage per person
is growing too. According to NetValue, U.K. users went
online for an additional 4.2 sessions a month in December
compared with the same point last year.

One key finding of the latest NetValue survey is that the
trusted high-street brands are at last seeing their online
strategies pay off. For example, visitors to argos co.uk have
increased by more than 0.4 million while those to comet.co.uk
are up three times over the previous year.

The figures look good, too, for the eventual arrival of an
advanced mobile Internet. Over seven million Internet users, or
62 percent of the online population, currently own a mobile phone.

Less welcome to the industry is Friday’s announcement by
research firm Gartner Dataquest that worlwide PC shipments
have slowed, having grown less than 15 percent during 2000.
In the fourth quarter of 2000, shipments in the U.S. were up
just 10 percent on the previous year.

Nonetheless, the latest snapshot of the U.K. Internet user
base will be very welcome, and in any case the industry
is not entirely linked to the PC market. Earlier this week
ONdigital revealed it has a hundred thousand users of its
online services connected to the Internet from their digital
televisions.

Of course, big figures can still conceal a sad tale, as
NetValue reminds us by noting that Letsbuyit.com, which earlier
this week filed for bankruptcy, was the sixth most visited
general retail Web site in December.

NetValue has not suggested reasons for the continued lively
growth in home Internet usage in the U.K., but the introducion
of unmetered access during 2000 has surely been a major
factor. Extensive marketing campaigns by AOL and other
major ISPs like LineOne are likely to ensure that this growth
continues through 2001.

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