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Lightglove, Photo: Cher SkouboCES 2006: Tech Tools and Toys
U.S. Online Travels Soar

Internet Caucus Tech Fair Mixes Policies and Products

Web Links
Measuring the Electronic Economy
U.S. Census Bureau

Podcasting catches on
PEW Internet & American Life Project

iTunes Reaches 14 Percent of U.S. Active Internet Universe (pdf)


13 million Americans made donations online after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
PEW Internet & American Life Project

Top Internet Trends in 2005

What will we remember about the Internet of 2005 and why does it matter? Everyone who has ever logged on to the Web knows that this environment evolves daily. Yet, one of the best ways to stay alert to new opportunities is to observe and learn from changes within recent years. These observations provide clues to new directions that may emerge.

Here are some of the latest trends in Americans’ use of the Internet.


U.S. Capitol, Photo: Cher Skoubo
photo: Skoubo Graphics
The Internet’s role in the American political process continues to grow.
Political Campaigns Gain Power Online

In 2005, the proportion of people who perceive the Internet as a medium that can help users gain political power has begun to rise. USC Annenberg School’s The Digital Future Report (December 2005) found that 61.7 percent of those surveyed agree that the Internet is important to the political process. People also viewed the Internet as a tool to learn about politics, but only certain websites were considered reliable sources. In 2005, 39.5 percent used established media websites, such as and, and 27 percent used candidates’ websites to gather campaign data. The media websites were considered the most accurate, and government

We are now seeing tangible evidence of the increasing role of the Internet in political decision-making.”
websites were rated nearly as reliable. In 2004, Internet users searched for information about the presidential election, candidates and issues that they supported or were deciding upon.

“We are now seeing tangible evidence of the increasing role of the Internet in political decision-making,” said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the USC Annenberg School for the Digital Future. “Clearly, the Internet’s role in the American political process will continue to grow, and it could have a significant impact during the Congressional elections of 2006.”1


Internet Use Increases—Even in Low Income Sector

Internet use rose in 2005, with 78.6 percent of people in the United States going online at home, school, and work. For the first time, the fastest growing use of the Internet was among Americans with the lowest income (less than $30,000). Internet use increased significantly among this group, growing from 50% in 2003 to 61% in 2005.

Access to the Internet at home also has grown substantially. In 1995, the National Science Foundation reported that approximately one-fifth of Americans had Internet access at home, compared to 2005 figures from The Digital Future Report stating that almost two-thirds of users (66.2 percent) have home Internet access.

The most consistent growth in Internet use is among older users with 74.9 percent online in 2005 compared to 55 percent in 2000.

Today more than half of Internet users have been active online for five years or longer. Internet usage time is also increasing, now averaging 13.3 hours per week.1


Broadband Access Reaches Highest Level

High-speed Internet access (cable modem, DSL, ISDN or T1/T3) continues to rise. In 2005, broadband penetration in American homes topped 63 percent. At the present growth rate of 1.1 percent per month, by February 2006 at least 70 percent of American Internet users will have broadband connections. Not surprisingly, as high-speed Internet connections increase narrowband (dial-up) connections decrease.2

Games for Windows, Photo: Cher Skoubo
photo: Skoubo Graphics
Broadband users enjoy more time online in activities such as this game for Windows.
The Department of Commerce reported in A Nation Online: Entering the Broadband Age that broadband’s rate of diffusion is outpacing that of many popular technologies in the past, such as videocassette recorders, the Internet and personal computers.

People who engage in a greater number of online activities are more likely to be broadband users. Broadband users spend more time online than modem users in activities such as telecommuting, e-mailing, instant messaging, playing games, seeking information, and downloading music.3

The “always on” environment of broadband lends itself to new service and commercial applications.


E-mail Reigns Supreme, Instant Messaging Gains Popularity

In 2005, e-mail continues to be the dominant online activity, with 89.9 percent of Internet users communicating through e-mail and 37.9 percent checking their inboxes several times a day. Currently, 70.7 percent of all Americans use e-mail.

More than 40 percent of users reveal that the Internet has increased communication with family and friends. Many of those surveyed say that they, a family member or close friend are in the military, and almost one-fourth of these people are deployed overseas. They use e-mail as a primary means of contacting family and friends in the United States.

Instant messaging (IM) is gaining popularity and, in 2005, 61 percent of IM users are sending and receiving messages from more than one person simultaneously. The majority of these multiple-message users are under 18 years of age.1


Google's Froogle Search Directory of Shops
Google’s shopping engine Froogle, lets users search for products, sort and review stores online .
Users Buy Online and Reveal Reason for Delayed Purchases

Online purchasing is on the rise. Both frequencies of purchase and total dollars spent increased in 2005. The volume of Internet purchases has tripled from 2002 to 2005. People have spent online an average of $43 a month more in 2005 than in 2001. Three-quarters of these purchasers said that online buying has reduced their purchases from retail stores. However, users more often browse online and purchase at a store than browse at a store and purchase online.

In 2005, 90 percent of Internet users also expressed caution about giving personal information online. Users cited concerns about using a credit card online as their number one reason for not shopping online, although fewer people are letting this stop them from making online purchases. This year more people stated a lack of a credit card as a reason for not buying on the Internet.1

The most profound technologies are those that disappear.”
While concern for privacy and security of data online may seem like a necessary component to e-commerce, the importance and impact of these issues will continue as new technologies are developed and integrated into the Internet. Technologies such as RFID, which use radio frequency to identify items, can collect and transfer data from everyday objects to Internet databases, making the transference of data more transparent. This invisible and constant exchange of information, used for both personal and business applications, may occur without the owners or originators of the data being aware of it.4

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear,” said the late Mark Weiser, Chief Technologist of Xerox PARC and world-renowned as an innovative computer scientist who focused his work on the notion of “ubiquitous computing. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” Over a decade ago he anticipated technologies integrated into our lives today, such as mobile phones and wi-fi.5 This trend is likely to continue with other emerging technologies.

The transparent collection of personal data highlights the importance of safeguarding principles such as informed consent, data confidentiality and security. Protecting privacy in e-commerce must encompass technical as well as regulatory and market-based solutions.4


MSN Spaces, Photo: Cher Skoubo
photo: Skoubo Graphics
The blogging interface makes it easy to post content and add to existing blogs, creating an interactive frequently-updated publication.
Original Online Content Takes Off

The creation and distribution of original online content continues to grow. Blogs, podcasts, and websites have become common venues for sharing content.

Teens are frequent participants with roughly 12 million young Americans (half of all teenagers 12-17) having created content for the Internet. This includes blogs; personal web pages; web pages for school, friends or organizations; shared original content such as artwork, photos, stories, or videos; or content from other websites remixed into new artistic creations.8
Blogging, an abbreviation for web logging, uses the web for personal diaries and other commentaries. It is new form of publishing has taken hold and transformed the world of online content. Blogs, a hybrid mix of personal thoughts, images and links, are different than traditional publishing in that they invite interaction with other bloggers and the content is frequently updated. The online interface allows people to easily contribute feedback that is presented along with the primary blog. There are personal blogs, teen blogs, movie blogs, news blogs, political blogs, commentary blogs, tech blogs, corporate blogs, group blogs and blogs about every theme imaginable. It is a trend that has engaged the online audience and continues to change the way American culture relates to online media.

By November 2004, more than 8 million people (7 percent of all Internet users) said that they had created a blog or web diary. Some 2 million Americans read blogs—a dramatic 58 percent increase from February to November of 2004. Some 5 percent of Internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to access news and other information delivered from blogs and websites.9

MP3 Player, Photo: Cher Skoubo
photo: Skoubo Graphics
Podcasts can be downloaded and listened to on any MP3 player.
A related process called podcasting has also become quite popular during 2005. The increase of podcasting has largely been attributed to the popularity of the iPod and the discovery of the fun of producing your own radio show. More than 6 million American adults, nearly one-third of American owners of iPods and MP3 players, have downloaded podcasts, according to a recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.7

Radio and television broadcasters have taken note of this trend and some are offering selected programs as downloadable podcasts from their websites. NPR The BBC was the first British boadcaster to podcast when they made In Our Time available as a downloadable MP3 file last year. More than 20 BBC radio shows are now available,, in a seven-month podcast trial that wraps up this December.

Podcasting is the distribution of audio content using Really Simple Syndication (RSS). Websites such as create an online aggregate of content, providing podcasters a site to showcase their shows and music. Individuals post their programs online for people to easily download for listening at a later time on an iPod or any MP3 player. The “always on” environment of broadband connections allows the podcasts to be delivered from the website to the user’s computer or MP3 player in a subscription-based style as soon as the content is available.


The Next Wave

Everyday objects and devices can be connected to large databases and networks using radio-frequency identification (RFID) and wireless broadband access to the Internet. Presently, RFID is already being used with automatic highway toll collections, supply-chain management, pharmaceuticals and e-health. More recently, it is being used for everything from ski passes to personal security. As broadband access increases the use of imbedded intelligence may realize a more interactive and responsive everyday network. For instance, Nokia plans to release RFID-enabled phones, providing more services for consumers, by 2006.4

1 USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, The Digital Future Report (December 2005).
2 Nielsen/NetRatings
3 Department of Commerce, A Nation Online: Entering the Broadband Age
4 International Telecommunication Union, ITU Internet Reports 2005: The Internet of Things
5 Mark Weiser, The Computer for the 21st Century,
6 Pew Internet & American Life Project, Congressional Internet Caucus, Speech given by Brad Smith, Privacy Online: How Americans feel…the ways they are responding to new threats…and why they are changing their online behavior, November 3, 2005.
7 Pew Internet & American Life Project, Teen Content Creators and Consumers, November 2, 2005.
8 Pew Internet & American Life Project, The State of Blogging, January, 2005.
9 Pew Internet & American Life Project, Podcasting Catches On, April 3, 2005.

Skoubo Graphics is an award-winning multimedia design firm located near Washington DC in Fairfax, Virginia. Technical news, industry updates and reviews are provided as a service for clients at

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