TV delivered over the Internet will create a new tier of niche content. Short videos on PCs will be commonplace by 2002; digital set-top box users will spend 10 percent of their TV time on Net video by 2004, according to Nua Internet Surveys.
Plenty of coal left for Christmas
A new report from the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions finds that despite a 9 percent growth in the economy during 1997 and 1998, energy consumption dropped more than it has in 50 years.
A major contributing factor is the information economy and the efficiency afforded by the Internet. Whereas traditionally global economic growth was synonymous with massive increases in energy consumption, the dawning of the technological era could mean this is no longer valid.
Because the Internet uses existing communications infrastructure, it is consuming a minute amount of energy compared to other industry sectors. The report finds that this is set to continue, and by the year 2007, the Internet will have contributed to previously inconceivable reductions in the worlds consumption of energy. Source: Nua Internet Surveys.
Here come the French
French users spent an average of three hours on the Internet in October, while British surfers spent four and Germans, about five. The average American home user is on the Internet for about five and a half hours each month. When work-related use is taken into account, this rises to about eight hours per month, according to a report from MMXI Europe BV.
According to a study by Forrester Research, 64 percent of Asian-American homes are linked to the Internet, twice the U.S. national average. Asian-American families also have a higher than average household income and spend more online than any other racial group in the United States.
Bank hold-ups rising
One in five users are likely to abandon setting up a new online banking account because of time-consuming red tape and complicated deposit procedures, according to a survey published by Frederick Schneiders Research.
Some companies in the financial services sector reported that up to 80 percent of those who began to open an account online did not complete the process. Despite this, 80 percent of U.S. consumers who use online banking services prefer them to traditional banks.
Free to a good home
The number of U.S. Internet users with free ISP accounts is expected to escalate to 13 million by the year 2003, according to research from Jupiter Communications.
Almost 13 percent of the ISP consumer market will use a free service as their primary service. While this will not threaten the subscription-based model, it will introduce flexible options. As most Internet users worry less about cost than they do about fast downloading and reliability, free ISPs are viewed as more of a niche market than serious competition for existing ISPs in the U.S. According to Jupiter, free ISPs will have to offer advertisers a sharply-defined user base as they are only expected to garner $901 million, or 8 percent, of total online advertising spending by 2003.
How to speak Australian: rip-off
According to Telstra, Australias largest telecommunications company, Internet access rates in the Asia-Pacific region are higher than average because users are forced to subsidize American Internet users. While Australian ISPs have to pay to access U.S. Internet backbone providers, there are no reciprocal charges imposed on U.S. ISPs for access to Australian services. Essentially, Australian users pay to access U.S. Web sites while U.S. users get free access to Australian sites.
Competitive Media Reporting announced that new media companies accounted for $775 million in advertising in the first half of last year, a threefold increase over 1998 figures for the same period. Meanwhile, a report from Zenith Media finds that the number of e-commerce companies wishing to use traditional advertising to push their wares has fueled global ad spending beyond expectations.
In Silicon Valley, online retailers were responsible for 17 percent of spending on radio ads and 11 percent of outdoor advertising in the first half of last year. Source: Nua Internet Surveys.
Someone has to eat crumpets
A survey conducted by Cranfield Management in conjunction with Microsoft finds that 73 percent of British executives do not believe technology is strategic to the growth of their business. The survey found that, on average, British directors allocate 8 percent of their time to the needs of their customers. This despite the fact that consumer power is growing exponentially as a result of the Web.
Who needs it?
New research from Cyber Dialogue finds that the rate of Internet uptake in the United States has slowed considerably, reflecting the gradual maturing of the market in the U.S. As a result, online marketers must invest heavily in customer relationship management and customer retention schemes.
The drop in pace is not a result of seasonal aberration; rather it is because of three major constraints, according to Cyber Dialogue. The most consistent is the so-called digital divide, those adults who cannot afford to own a PC or pay for Internet access.
Second, one-third of U.S. adults believe they have no need for the Internet and have no intention of getting online. Third, a significant number of U.S. adults have tried the Internet and found they have no use for it they number 27.7 million, up from 9.4 million in 1997.
The servers are on, but nobody is home
A new report from Jupiter Communications finds that despite the critical need for more substantial customer support, the number of e-mail queries being answered is decreasing.
The survey sent customer inquiries to the top 125 Web sites in the retail, travel, content, financial services and consumer brand sectors and found that customer service failure rates are higher than last year. Only 37 percent of companies surveyed have integrated three or more customer service channels on their Web sites.
While half of shopping sites responded within a day and 40 percent of travel sites responded in one day, shopping sites demonstrated a 40 percent failure rate, up from 28 percent last year, while travel sites had a 48 percent failure rate, up from 38 percent.
Just under half of all Web sites tested, 46 percent, did not respond for five days or more, did not respond at all or did not have contact details on their site for customer queries. In the same survey last year, this figure was 38 percent.
According to Jupiter, the most frequently trafficked sites have to process upwards of 50,000 transactions per day and many are finding that fulfillment of these orders is stretching customer service resources.
The latest figures from Nielsen/NetRatings show that computer hardware sites and automobile sites are the most popular shopping destination sites for adult males over the age of 18.
The top shopping sites for adult males were Egghead.com, Onsale.com, Dell.com, Buy.com, Compaq.com, Mcafree.com, Gateway.com, hp.com, Autotrader.com and Autoweb.com.
Yahoo! sales are through the roof!
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States, shopping transactions on Yahoo! were up 400 percent over the same day last year.
AOL announced that spending at the site during Thanksgiving week nearly tripled over the same week last year. Four million AOL members bought online last week and almost 600,000 of those were purchasing on the Internet for the first time. Toys, clothing, flowers and sporting goods were the products most favored by customers.
Companies hosting large Internet retail operations are experiencing a doubling of traffic every four to five months, with more than 6 gigabits of information sent per second during peak times, compared to 2-3 gigabits this time last year.
Many retail sites are experiencing site outages as a result of the unexpectedly heavy traffic. Customers are having difficulties logging into toy retailer sites and some companies are offering discount vouchers to appease disappointed visitors. Source: Reuters
Do you take Diners Club?
Twice as many U.S. adults used credit cards to buy products and services online in 1999 than did in 1998, according to research from Cyber Dialogue. While 9.3 million people used their credit cards to buy on the Internet in 1998, that has soared to 19.2 million. In 1997, 4.9 million people purchased online.
Almost 70 percent of respondents used Visa to complete their online transactions. One-third used MasterCard; 12 percent, American Express; and 8 percent, Discover.
Visa leads the field in terms of the total value of online transactions, but the survey showed that MasterCard and American Express have a higher share of dollars spent, partly because these cards are often used for higher value transactions, such as the purchase of travel tickets, online.
Targeted at small businesses and accessible from anywhere through a standard Web browser, Formsplanet.com hosts a catalogue of virtual business forms that can be customized, filled, issued and archived directly from the Web site. Far beyond paper replacement, this application service provider hosts efficient e-document technology to enable small offices/home offices to establish a more professional corporate identity without the expense of paper stationery, specialty software and server infrastructure.
Partners such as Entrust Technologies Inc. and Corel Corp. are working with Formsplanet.com to ensure that all types of documents, from invoices to time sheets to proposals, can be custom branded and stored securely in virtual file cabinets as they have never been before.
To visually enhance and customize business stationery, Formsplanet.com visitors can select from 1,000 professional-quality clip art images from Graphic Corp, a division of Corel Corporation and the worlds largest supplier of digital content.
Clueless in telecom
In a survey of 12 North American wireless carriers, Forrester Research found that 83 percent have not addressed the need for new business models and pricing structures for mobile e-commerce.
Carriers have it all wrong, said Mark Zohar, senior analyst with Forrester. The study, The Dawn of Mobile eCommerce, advised businesses aiming to compete in the wireless market to focus on developing new business models for mobile e-commerce and to review existing partnerships and pricing models.
According to Forrester, carriers investing in third generation wireless systems must look at what structures they need to put in place to deliver relevant, personalized locationbased services on thin mobile applications.
To provide the services that consumers expect, carriers need to improve their data transfer capabilities. Existing cellular networks and infrastructures need to be upgraded, and this could cost billions of dollars, according to Forrester.
The group expects business users to be among the first mobile e-commerce consumers and advises mobile service providers to partner with small device manufacturers and develop travel-oriented content to retain early users.
Talking shop with my PC
Online retailers who have not invested in customer service could end up losing $3.2 billion in sales this year, according to a report from Datamonitor. Last year retailers with no customer service support lost up to $1.6 billion in sales.
A report from Datamonitor advises businesses to invest more in customer support and less in trying to garner new clients. Rather than spend exorbitant amounts of money on
marketing and advertising, these companies should start investing in live customer service.
As the list of excuses for substandard performance on e-commerce sites this year decreases the technology is there and mistakes made last year should not be made this year retailers are hoping to turn new shoppers into loyal shoppers this season.
Datamonitor advises retailers to invest in providing live customer support in the form of instant messaging, call centers or IRC technology. Less than 1 percent of sites have live support and Datamonitor says that 10 percent of sales lost could have been saved by contact with a person.
The research company projects that by 2003, 40 percent of companies will provide multimedia customer support.