More people than ever are online but the growth rate is slowing, according to International Data Corp.’s (IDC) “1997 World Wide Web Survey of Home and Business Users.”
The report found that 13% of all U.S. households were online at the end of 1996, and about 20% at the end of 1997, a growth rate of about 54%. But IDC predicts that by the end of 1998 only 23% of households will be online, a growth rate of only 15%.
An obvious reason for the slowdown is the simple cap of the market. Once
there is 100% penetration there is no room for growth, and growth rates typically slow as they approach that number.
Another factor is the widespread penetration of the Internet in the work place. As people access the Net from work, the percentage of households online does not necessarily reflect the percentage of people connected.
The lower cost of PCs also bodes well for Internet penetration. Not only are
newer systems less expensive, but older even lower-cost computers are more
than adequate for Internet access.
According to IDC’s Jill Frankle, program manager for IDC’s Consumer Internet program, the company predicts “continued PC penetration, fueled partially by the sub-$1000 systems, the increased use of WebTV-style devices, and the likely introduction of digital set-top boxes in a small percentage of U.S. homes.”