How many people use the Internet

01:00 Wed 12th Jun 2002 |

Rosier asked: How many people have Internet in the US

This Internet thingy they're all talking about: it looks like it's here to stay. In fact - and this will come as no surprise to you, dear reader - every day more people are surfing for longer.

The latest figures released by research company Nielsen/NetRatings suggest that Internet usage has risen by another 16 percent in the last twelve months.

As for Rosier's question - at the last count there are a reported 105,170,327 active web surfers in the US and 165,745,689 people in total who have access.

What about in the rest of the world
Nielsen/NetRatings measure web activity in 21 countries. And according to their research, there are around 450 million surfers around the world. Not all of them are as termed 'active', but there are over 250 million people regularly surfing through cyberspace.

In the UK, 34,104,175 people are estimated to have Internet access. That's 57.2 percent of the entire population. And the 'active internet universe' - those who surf regularly - amounts to 21,799,637. On average, surfers in the UK now spend nearly 10 hours a month online. (Others estimate the numbers are slightly smaller, but there's no question that they are on the increase).

Why are the numbers increasing
More and more people are coming online, especially in the home. (The numbers always jump in January as computers bought for Christmas get plugged in). If you've been surfing for years you may wonder how anyone manages without it... and that's increasingly what the 'newbies' must be feeling as well. The price of joining in is coming down, not just for buying the hardware but for spending time online. Flat-rate monthly tariffs and highspeed broadband access being more available, the whole experience is getting better, and people are spending more time online as a result.

And what do we do online
According to Nielsen/NetRatings, these are the Top 10 web properties for May 2002 for UK surfers:
1. MSN (11,305,065 visitors)
2. Yahoo!
3. Microsoft
4. AOL Time Warner
5. Google
6. BBC
7. Wanadoo
8. British Telecom
9. Amazon
10. Ask Jeeves

[Theanswerbank must be there or thereabouts! - Ed.]

Lots of American sites there.
The USA still dominates the Internet, with the big players replicating their success with localised sites in country after country. The top five sites Stateside look familiar: Microsoft, AOL Time Warner, Yahoo!, Google and eBay. Sites like the BBC and BT might be huge in the UK, but don't make such an impact overseas.

France manages to relegate the usual suspects, Microsoft, Yahoo! etc, from the top of the tree in favour of homegrown portals like Wanadoo, Free and Vivendi Universal.

Elsewhere, a well-targeted or useful site can usurp the Americanisation of the web. The sixth most popular site in Norway is the Skattedirektoratet - that's the Tax Office's website. Likewise, the Australian Federal Government ranks 7th in Australia, but doesn't have much of an impact over here! Osuuspankki might sound exciting and even a bit rude, but actually it's a bank - and Finland's 10th most visited site.

What else are surfers clicking on
There are plenty of topical or seasonal websites that do fantastically well for brief periods. The official Gareth Gates website surged to the top of the charts in March with 199,0000 visitors. It isn't so busy now.

Travel websites did well this spring with nearly 43 percent of all Web surfers accessing an online travel site in March. Maybe they were all hoping to book June holidays in a (futile) attempt to escape the World Cup.

I wondered when that would get a mention.
Not surprisingly, traffic to Fifa's Official World Cup site increased by 420 percent as the tournament kicked off. The servers have juddered and heaved under the weight of 106,736,781 page views in one day! With games kicking off during office hours for most of Europe and the Americas, all kinds of records look set to be smashed during the tournament, despite the lack of (official) streaming audio or video.

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