The Internet Lives!

With e-commerce companies littering the bankruptcy courts, it’s easy to feel the Internet boom was a figment of everyone’s imagination. But no: The boom in Internet bashing is itself due for a correction. After all, the fact that few people have figured out how to make money on the Web doesn’t mean its audience has ceased to exist. A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (excerpted in the chart) finds far more people increasing than decreasing their use of the Internet. Among those who’ve been online three years or more, just 11 percent have reduced their Internet time. Internet latecomers are more likely to have done so, perhaps because they weren’t enthralled in the first place. “For these users, the Internet bug may have been just that—a 24-hour flu, not a life-changing event.” Meanwhile, e-commerce has been more influential than its failures might suggest. A study by The NPD Group finds 84 percent of “occasional” online purchasers “usually shop online and go offline topurchase.” Looking just at 13-17-year-olds, a Jupiter Media Matrix report makes a similar point: Although 89 percent of these teens have never bought anything online (as few of them have the necessary credit cards), “29 percent research products on the Internet before buying them at stores.”