Growth in Internet use slows

Despite the decline of the dot-com industry, the popularity of the Internet continues to grow. Nearly six of every ten U.S. homes are now online, according to new figures released by Nielsen/NetRatings.

The Web audience measurement service says that 58 per cent of U.S. households had Internet access in July, a 16 per cent increase from one year ago when the rate was 52 per cent.

U.S. households with Internet connections stood at 106.3 million in July 1999. The number grew to 144 million by July 2000 and increased again to 165.2 million in July 2001.

Even with a troubled economy and a slump in the computer industry, Internet adoption continues to grow at double-digit annual rates, says Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst for NetRatings Inc.

“The biggest jump for me is looking at that growth,” she says. “We’ve seen these high levels of growth. Do we expect that to flatten, decline, or continue to grow? Is there a limit to how many people are going to be online in the future?”

Slow Growth Ahead

Strand sees continued growth, but not at the high rates of even one year ago. Continued growth will depend on even more aggressive use by existing Web users and increased adoption of the technology by the mainstream United States.

Everything, however, is colored by the economic situation.

“Looking at PC sales and the overall economy, you’ve got a lot of people in the ‘wait and see’ mode,” Strand says.

Not only are more households online, but also more people are spending more time on the Internet. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, surfers spent an average of 10 hours and 19 minutes online in July 2001 – a seven per cent rise from July 2000 when Web users spent 9 hours and 41 hours online per month.

Top Sites

Where are all those people spending their time?

AOL Time Warner Inc. continues to top the most-visited site list followed by Yahoo, MSN, Microsoft, and Lycos Network. And according to Nielsen/NetRatings, the top five stickiest sites in July were, NeoPets,, SimSlots, and JigZone.