Survey indicates use of Internet continues to rise

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 12

The use of, and people's dependence on the Internet further deepened in Taiwan last year, with older people going online in large numbers, a survey released last week showed.

The number of Internet users hit a new high last year, with 59.1 percent of the nation's population over 10, or 11.86 million people, regularly going online, according to an annual survey conducted by market research institute Insight-Xplorer Ltd (創市際) in cooperation with Ipsos Taiwan in November.

The result showed steady growth in the nation's Internet access, in comparison with 54.7 percent, or 10.81 million people, in 2005, and 48.7 percent, or 9.5 million people, in 2004, the poll said.

The frequency of digital network usage also increased, with 42.5 percent of respondents going online less than one day before being polled, up from 40.4 percent one year earlier and 36.1 percent in 2004, the survey said.

"The Internet is a medium that can provide integrated services, which helps deepen users' dependence, and has potential for overtaking television to be the largest service medium in the future," Jason Chiang (江義宇), chief executive officer of Insight-Xplorer, said in an interview.

Heavy users are mostly young people aged between 20 and 29 with an average Internet access ratio as high as 89.1 percent, followed by 83.9 percent for the group aged between 10 and 19 and 75.3 percent for those aged from 30 to 39, the survey showed.

Notably, users aged between 40 and 49 years old saw a record high Internet access ratio at 55.3 percent last year, a jump from 45.2 percent in 2005 and 35.3 percent in 2004.

Up to 17.6 percent of respondents over 50 years old also became Internet lovers, up from 17.2 percent and 10.7 percent during 2005 and 2004, the poll said.

This marks the rising power of older users in cyberspace and the popularity of digital networks across all generations, the market researcher said.

"Given that current online content is designed mainly for young people, Web sites or Internet content providers that seek expansion or to differentiate their product will have to offer services to users aged over 40," Chiang said.

Internet mania has resurged in recent years after the bubble burst in 2000.

There have been a wave of mergers and acquisitions lately, with Google Inc taking over YouTube for US$1.65 billion in October and Taiwan's Yahoo-Kimo Inc snapping up blog service provider Wretch (無名小站) for NT$700 million (US$21.4 million) last month.

Google vice president Lee Kai-fu (李開復) said the world's largest search engine will be seeking acquisition targets in Taiwan this year, the Chinese-language Commercial Times reported yesterday.

Predicting more industry consolidation, Ipsos Taiwan president Chien Chih-yuan (錢志遠) said he expected commerical use of the Internet to increase rapidly.