Email And Search Tops For Internet Users



by Les Luchter, Thursday, May 1, 2008 7:00 AM ET


 Most consumers still access the Internet mostly for email and search, according to a Gartner survey of 4,770 Web users in 18 countries. Surprisingly, online banking placed third, followed by sharing photos, videos and files, geographic navigation like Google Earth, and online shopping. Gartner’s findings generally held up across all regions, educational levels and income levels, with one major exception–13- to-18-year-olds.

For this teenage demographic, email was again No.1, but it was followed by music downloading, search, sharing of photos, videos and files, and then instant messaging. Most importantly, Gartner noted, the teens had greater interest than other demographics in using the Internet to download music, do instant messaging, share media and files, watch TV or video, make friends and use social networks, play games, use chat rooms or message boards, blog and use online dating services.

“Rather than being considered as contrarians, they should be regarded as the precursors of what is to come,” according to report author and Gartner research director Elroy Jopling.

Jopling pointed to “a new trickle-down phenomenon, where teenagers lead the evolution of consumer Internet applications.” As a result, he said, Internet applications, either fixed line or mobile, “will mimic life–communicating, entertaining, socializing, informing, transactional.”

Gartner said that the “greatest opportunities for technology and service providers lie in bringing the full scope of Internet capabilities to mobile devices–the new Internet frontier,” and offered the following recommendations for both fixed-line and mobile providers:

• To reach the widest spectrum of users, include e-mail and search in all offerings.

• Ensure that your consumers can do financial transactions, such as bill paying and online banking.

• Monitor the teenage market even if it’s not your target audience, “for this demographic has become the bellwether for future Internet applications.”

The Gartner survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2007.



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