In New York Wednesday, a prestigious business research group announced the results of the first ever Consumer Internet Barometer a survey that assesses what Americans do online.
Since the Internet came into the mainstream, the number of people accessing it has grown exponentially. Today, nearly 150 million people use it in the United States alone. But what are all of these people doing in cyber space?
Lynn Franco of the Conference Board, the New York-based center for business research that carried out the survey, says the first report yields a clear answer. "The main driver to the Internet really is personal communication and personal research," she said. "Those are the top two reasons why people use the Internet."
Ms. Franco says that much of the research people do leads to online purchases, which continue to increase. More consumers than ever are shopping on the information highway - but, she says, not without reservations. "Almost two thirds of all consumers have been online," said Lynn Franco. "Only a third have never gone online. And while we see an increase in the level of satisfaction among users, trust is hovering at a low rate, and still remains an issue."
Online consumers remain concerned that their transactions and personal information might be intercepted by a malicious third party. Still, Ms. Franco says, the percentage of consumers spending more than $250 online per quarter is up three percent from last year.
The Consumer Internet Barometer is based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. households, and will be published quarterly.