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Search is catching up to email as the internet's number-one activity, according to a new poll.

Forty one per cent of US adults who surfed the internet on a "typical day" in September 2005 used a search engine, up from 30 per cent in June 2004, according to the latest Pew Internet & American Life survey of consumer behavior.

Email continues its online reign, though. Fifty two per cent of Americans online sent or received email on a typical day in September 2005 - up from 45 per cent in June 2004.

The results come as IT giants and start-ups spawn in the search market, with dreams of becoming the "next Google" or the "next Yahoo!". Microsoft has set itself on a collision course with Google by trying to fuse search with advertising, while Silicon Valley start-ups rush to provide search services and engines that attract advertisers by serving niche markets.

Search doesn't have it easy, though. Internet users spent more than 24 minutes on email compared to just 3.5 minutes on search engines, according to comScore data, meaning search companies must work hard to ensure they become desireable online destinations for consumers.®

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