Social networking now bigger than webmail

A new report into online activity has found that in 2008 social networking sites attracted more visitors than web-based personal email services for the first time.

The report, from online market researcher Nielsen, found that 66.8% of Internet surfers visited a ‘member community’ site during the year, compared with 65.1% who visited personal email services.

There was also a phenomenal rise in the amount of time people spend on social networks. While Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, saw a 168% growth in visitors during 2008, it also saw a staggering 566% increase in the total amount of time spent on the site.

Social networking also dominated the mobile web, especially in the UK which saw a 249% increase in mobile access to social networking sites in 2008.

Search is still top dog on the web, with 85.9% of web users having visited a search engine, followed by ‘general interest portals’ and the sites of software manufacturers. Social networks and email ranked fourth and fifth respectively.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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