Non-Browser-Based Applications Grow in Popularity

NEW YORK Three out of four home and work Web users go online through non-browser-based Internet applications, such as media players, instant messengers and file-sharing tools, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

A recent report found that about 106 million people used Internet applications in November, up 11 percent from the year-ago period. These users spent an average of three hours and 37 minutes per month using these tools.

Windows Media Player was the most popular application, reaching 34 percent of the active user base. AOL Instant Messenger and Real Player followed, each with a 20 percent reach. And MSN Messenger Service and Yahoo! Messenger Services reached 19 percent and 12 percent of the active user base, respectively.

“Functionality has grown beyond the browser to become a fundamental piece of the overall desktop,” said Abha Bahagat, senior analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings, a part of Adweek parent VNU. “It’s become harder to distinguish when you’re on the Internet, blurring the lines between what’s sitting on the desktop and what’s coming from the Web.”