US Net penetration hits plateau

Is this the peak?

Internet penetration has levelled off in the US with an increase of just one per cent in the last year, according to the results of the Harris Poll.

The results from the global market research and consulting firm, Harris Interactive, found that 64 per cent of adults in the US currently access the Net - up a smidgen from 2000.

This one per cent increase over the last year has been described as "not statistically significant" by the survey's authors and has got boffins thinking about what will happen to Net growth.

Up until now penetration has risen sharply with the increasing popularity of the Net. In 1995 just nine per cent of adults went online. By 1997, that figure had risen to 30 per cent before jumping to 56 per cent a year later. At the end of 2000 63 per cent of adults in the US were online.

With around 127 million adult Net users it seems it's too soon to call whether penetration has hit a ceiling or whether there is still room for growth.

"What is remarkable about these results is that this is the first time since the rapid growth of Internet use began in 1994 that we have not seen sizeable increases in Internet penetration over a twelve month period," those compiling the report said.

"Only history will tell us if the failure of the Internet to increase its penetration over the last 12 months is merely a pause, to be followed by more growth, or a plateau beyond which it will not increase much for some time," they said.

In a bid to explain the lack of growth it's been suggested that the weakening economy could be responsible for inhibiting growth.

It was also noted that that the flattening out of the curve appears to have coincided with the dotcom crash on NASDAQ. ®

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