The huge US Web portals continue to dominate Internet audience figures according to the latest November stats from audience measurement company Nielsen/NetRatings.
Microsoft's MSN was neck-and-neck with Yahoo with an impressive 4 million unique users each, way ahead of their nearest rival, AOL, which had just over 2.5 million people clicking through its sites.
Four other portals hovered around the two-million-plus unique users mark; Lycos, Freeserve, British Telecom and Microsoft's corporate site. Understandably, the top-four Web properties -www.MSN.com www.yahoo.co.uk www.aol.com www.lycos.com, also topped the search engine charts with unique audience figures of between 3.3 and one million, ahead of search engine specialists like www.ask.co.uk www.google.com and www.altavista.com.
In comparison to the huge audience figures the UK's most popular shopping sites -www.Amazon.co.uk - achieved 1.2 million and 600,000 unique users, respectively. Third in this category was www.Streetsonline.co.uk, but two UK-based blue-chip retailers make an appearance in the top five. www.tesco.com www.Argos.co.uk both garnered 300,000-plus unique users - demonstrating just how e-commerce in no longer a dotcom-dominated pastime. Bubbling under in this category are traditional retailers like white goods retailer Comet and WH Smith.
And in three categories, news and information, finance and entertainment, pre-Internet UK based brands dominate. Auntie's website, www.bbc.co.uk dominates the news and information category. With 1.3 million unique users in November 2000, it had three times as many as its nearest rivals www.zdnet.com and www.cnet.com.
Internet bank Egg held its own against the traditional high-street banks in the finance category. It had 560,000 unique users in November, ahead www.lloydstsb.co.uk on 400,000 and www.barclays.co.uk on 330,000. The entertainment category was headed by www.virgin.net, which claimed more than 700,000 users, ahead of online music servicewww.napster.com and Microsoft's www.windowsmedia.com with 400,000 visitors and www.sky.com with 300,000.
The average home usage demographics for November 2000 showed an increase of 4% in active surfers from 9.4 million to 9.8 million. Apart from that, however, the average length of surfing sessions, total time spent online and the number of sites visited remained static.
Daily and hourly home usage figures showed that between 47-54% of the Web-enabled population were online each day, apart from Sunday when 59% were surfing. Usage levels increased throughout each day from 8% at 7am through to the evening where levels were around 50% during the period 6-9pm.
According to www.Webmergers.com, an online analysis site, 210 Internet start-ups went out of business in 2000 - 60% of which hit the wall in the fourth quarter.
November and December were particularly bad months, with 46 and 40 closures respectively. Fifty-five percent of shutdowns involved e-commerce companies while 35% were involved in Web content.
At least a quarter of those closing were seeking buyers for their assets. The worst hit area for closures was understandably California with 34%, while 10% of those shutting up shop were based in Europe.
Webmergers said that the 210 companies represented 15,000 lost jobs. This total does not take into account the companies that are still trading, but are cutting staff numbers to reduce costs.