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AppRising delivers insight into new broadband applications, exploring their impact on networks and their implications for public policy.

AppRising is written by Geoff Daily, who covers broadband applications and the business of online video. Based in Washington, DC, Geoff regularly advises applications developers, network operators, community leaders, and public officials on how to maximize adoption and use of the Internet.

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August 21, 2007 9:06 AM

According to New Numbers: Online Gaming Still Most Popular App; Internet Video Catching Up

Last week, Parks Associates released new numbers surrounding usage trends for US adult Internet users, in particular related to the use of online gaming, online video, and social networking sites.

Here’s a brief rundown of the numbers, which represent growth from Q2 ’06 to Q2 ’07 in the percentage of users who use a category of application in a given week:

- Video games went from 19% to 34%
- Short video clips went from 13% to 29%
- Social networking went from 13% to 19%

I see a number of interesting trends within these simple stats.

First off, I’ll continue beating my drum about how far we still have to go. The thing to remember is that this is a survey of US adult Internet users, not all US adults. Per earlier reports that only half of US households have broadband, I take these numbers to mean that less than 15% of US adults are watching short video clips online, for example.

But instead of lamenting our current state, instead I want to point out the incredible amount of room to grow these spaces still have, contrasting that against the massive demand for bandwidth that has already been created.

Think of it this way: YouTube is often cited as delivering as much traffic today as was being delivering by the entire Internet in 2000.

So what does that mean once 20% of US adults start watching online video? Or 30%? Or 50%? What that says to me is despite the meteoric growth of YouTube and online video, we’ve still got the opportunity for demand for bandwidth to increase exponentially from this one, relatively mature area of Internet applications alone.

Secondly, I think it’s worth noting that while social networking still lags somewhat behind gaming and online video, that it’s increasingly not an either/or situation when it comes to what people are doing with their time.

Social networking sites like MySpace are credited with generating a ton of traffic for sites like YouTube; they’re increasingly incorporating video delivery capabilities of their own; and online games have become so engrossing that social networks are popping up around popular games, plus one could argue that many of these games are social networks in and to themselves.

From a purely gaming perspective, bandwidth demands are on the rise as graphics continue getting richer and users spend more and more time in these virtual worlds. Also worth noting is the sense that online gaming must compete for attention with short video sites, which should lead to an even more ferocious pace of innovation than we’ve already seen.

Long story short, this report confirms the obvious: demand for bandwidth is going up, up, and up, with no end in sight.


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