On-line Services


Only 7% of households in the U.S. subscribe to on-line services. (NYT, 6/9/95, D1)

Few Americans Are Ready for Info Highway - Study

CLARENDON HILLS, ILLINOIS, U.S.A. 1995 MAR 31 (NB) via NewsPage -- Are the data and services on the so-called "information superhighway" things that people are lining up for, or are the toll booths empty? According to a new study from IMR Research, a surprisingly small number of Americans are ready to zoom into the "infobahn's" fast lanes. The findings are a part of the firm's "Audio/Video/Computer Product Planner's Notebook." The study polled more than 7,500 US households, and documented consumer attitudes among 20 age and income segments. IMR officials say results of the study show the level of interest and acceptance of some of the most talked about new technologies is surprisingly low. The study also showed the likelihood of the info highway becoming a mainstream technology in the relatively near future is slim. "I'm not saying this won't ever be a good market," Ken Brenneman, president of IMR, told Newsbytes. "But they are making plans for a bigger market, and it's not happening. Some companies are not going to make it." The study found the three core info highway services that have the most attention from companies -- movies-on-demand, home shopping, and information databases -- are not settling well at home. When it comes to movies-on-demand, only 11% of Americans use pay-per-view (PPV), the study shows, and that number only uses it 14 times a year. Also, 91% of people would rather rent a $1 video than pay for a $5 PPV movie. In the home shopping arena, only eight percent of those surveyed say they watch services such as QVC and Home Shopping Network. As far as information services, or online databases, are concerned, Brenneman said they grew at a rate of 68% from 1994 to 1995. Yet only six percent of Americans connect to an online service each week, and only 38 percent of non-users feel they will do so in the near future. Virtually everyone surveyed felt that online and Internet services were "too complicated and cluttered, requiring considerable computer knowledge to access and use," the company said. Brenneman said the online community suffers from a case of "information overload," and he equates going online to visiting the library, saying, "How many times do you go to the library for fun?" Brenneman said all of the info highway-related services are showing "tremendous growth," but the total penetration into the market in general is still low. "The companies develop services for the innovators and technologically savvy people, and they assume the services will trickle down to the mass market. But that's not the case here." A future development that could help increase mass market acceptance, Brenneman said, is the development of an easier interface, and "one that's easier than Windows or Macintosh." He said a lot of people can't type, especially older people and those who are less-educated. "They're going to have to make it (the interface) almost effortless. Until some more user-friendly interfaces come out, it's going to be tougher to get people with marginal interests in these services to use them." (Bob Woods/19950331/Press Contact: David Ellis, Vigon/Ellis, 818-980-3777. Public Contact: IMR Research, 708-654-1077) [03-31-95 at 15:00 EST, Copyright 1995, Newsbytes News Network.]

Survey: online services will reach 12 percent of U.S. homes by year's end

A Washington-area market research firm predicts that 12 percent of all U.S. homes will be connected to an online service by the end of the year if the current rate of growth continues. Telecommunications Research Inc. (TRI) of Arlington, Va., recently completed a national survey showing that nearly 8 percent of U.S. homes are connected to an online service like America Online, CompuServe or Prodigy -- up from 5 percent at the end of 1994. About 16 percent of heads of household aged 18-24 use online services, compared with 5 percent of those in the 55-64 age group. The survey also found that nearly 40 percent of U.S. homes have a PC and more than 99 percent have a television. Telecommunications Research's survey was designed to measure the U.S. home market for interactive entertainment, shopping and information service. The company interviewed 1,500 randomly selected households. For more information, contact Doug Young, a principal at Telecommunications Research, at 703-516-7772.

Kate Gerwig; http://techweb.cmp.com/ia/17issue/17cover.html

Update on Minitel

Started 12 years ago by France Telecom, the Minitel computer network now supports 6.5 million special Minitel terminals used by 14.4 million people, almost one-third of France's adult population. Use of the system for games and sex has declined from 22% of total usage to 14%, and the French now use the system mainly for such practical things as banking and public information sevices. Minitel now offers 24,600 services, offered by more than 10,000 companies. (The Economist 19 Aug 95 p62)
The report said while there were 6.6 million consumer online subscriptions in 1994, only 4.37 million households actually were online--taking into account that the average online household subscribes to roughly 1.5 services. In addition, there were 3.1 million subscibers to business online services. http://www.iw.com/simba/9509102.htm

AOL In $14.5 Million Buy Of Israeli Internet Company

America Online Inc. says it has agreed to purchase Ubique Ltd., an Israeli developer of real-time interaction and joint navigation technology for the Internet, for $14.5 million in stock and cash. AOL said it will use Ubique's Virtual Places technology to enhance and expand its existing live online interactive communication for both its consumer online services and its new Internet brand service. The company, which has followed a strategy of purchasing innovative Internet technology companies mostly for stock, said $13.2 million will be paid in AOL shares and $1.3 million in cash at closing, expected by the end of this month. AOL described Virtual Places as "a client-server software architecture that humanizes the Internet's World Wide Web by allowing people to virtually meet and interact." It was first introduced last March, when Ubique worked with Ziff-Davis Expositions to produce a Virtual Trade Show on the Internet in conjunction with the NetWorld+Interop '95 trade show using the Virtual Places technology, AOL said. "Interest in the World Wide Web is growing rapidly, but so far the Web is just about accessing content and has been largely devoid of community," said Steve Case, AOL's president and CEO. "Over the past decade, we have learned that interactive communication is the soul of this new medium. The acquisition of Ubique positions us to bring a sense of community to the Web." Ehud Shapiro, founder and president of Ubique, will reside in the United States and remain president of Ubique reporting to Mike Connors, president, AOL Technologies. The Ubique development staff will continue to reside in Rehovot, Israel and will be managed by Avner Shafrir, Ubique's VP of research and development. Prior to starting Ubique in December 1993, Shapiro spent 13 years in academia, most recently in the department of applied mathematics and computer science at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He attended Tel Aviv University and a received a Ph.D. in computer science from Yale University.

Cowles/SIMBA Media Daily 9/11/95=

Last modified: 1997-06-06 by Henning Schulzrinne