Perhaps you think you’re doing something useful when you boot up your PC and head online. Odds are, there’s a one-in-three chance you’re spending your time on Facebook. Or playing with virtual sheep.
So says Nielsen in a new report about what American do online. Title: “What Americans Do Online.”
The key takeaway here is that social networks and online games take up about a third of our Web time. That’s up from last year, when the two categories combined to take up about 25 percent of our time.
And that’s good news for Facebook and Farmville-maker Zynga, which dominate the two categories. It’s neutral news for Google (GOOG), since search’s share has stayed consistent at about 3.5 percent, and it’s bad news for Yahoo (YHOO) and AOL (AOL), since portal time has decreased by 19 percent.
Here’s your data in chart form (click to enlarge):
And in a groovy graphic:
Interesting side note is that usage patterns change if you’re talking about Internet use on your phone. There, Nielsen says, you’re much more likely to spend time tapping out email:
What accounts for the difference? Nielsen doesn’t hazard a guess, so I’ll make a couple:
- Even on sophisticated handsets like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and Google’s Android, it’s easier to check email than just about any other online experience. And if you’re talking about cruder feature phones with very limited Web access–the kinds that average Americans still use in great numbers–that difference is even more pronounced.
- The mobile content people keep telling us that that phone users are interested in “snacking” on content. Can’t get more snackable than an email, right?
One other data point to consider when considering the different data points: The data comes from different places.
Nielsen’s PC-based Web stats come from both self-reported surveys and panel data, where a small group of users allow Nielsen to track their behavior. The mobile data only comes from self-reported surveys. So it may be that people would like us to think that they’re less likely to screw around on their phones than they really are. So be truthful–how much does your Web usage differ when you get on your phone?
Facebook, Twitter say social is the new normal
(Reuters) - The social networking phenomenon has nowhere to go but up as computer use becomes more mobile, according to leading figures in the development of the popular sites Facebook and Twitter.
"Two to five years from now, the whole question of what other social networks you use will be moot, because it will all be social," Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, said in Boston on Thursday.
"Social is becoming the frame, the filter to a lot of information," Hughes, 27, said during a panel discussion at the Charles Schwab "Impact 2010" investment conference.
Facebook has over 500 million active users, including more than 150 million who access the site through their mobile devices. The number of registered Twitter users is estimated at more than 165 million.
Both companies are privately held, and investors are on constant alert for any sign either will go public.
Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, said the expansion of social networking would closely track a rise in personal mobility as devices such as smart phones replace traditional computers.
"I would like to see a lot less people hunched over computers in their offices in five years," said Stone, 36.
Hughes said applications such as Facebook Connect would increasingly be knitted into the social networking fabric.
For example, Facebook Connect users going to The New York Times' website can now see which articles their friends are reading and recommending.
"With a few clicks you're having a social experience," Hughes said, adding that the functionality can be a way to cut through information overload that many struggle with.
"There is no better filter than people that you know and trust," he said.
Stone has 1.6 million followers for his tweets. He said he likes to follow to follow the Twitter feed of Sockington the Cat, a Waltham, Massachusetts, feline with a knack for clever repartee.
Twitter, said Stone, "is not going to be a triumph of technology -- it's going to be a triumph of humanity ... the growth potential is there from a positive change perspective, not just a business perspective."
(Editing by Jerry Norton)