Being Online Has Become So Common That Some People No Longer Identify It As Being Online

from the to-be-online-or-not-to-be-online dept

One thing we know for sure is that the internet has become a growing part of everyone's lives. People are connecting to the internet for a variety of everyday activities including watching tv and movies, listening to music, reading news and gaming. With the internet becoming so ubiquitous in people's lives, would it be a surprise to see that the number of people who identify such activities as "being online" is dropping?

That is exactly what Forrester Research has shown in its latest study on people's media habits. In a blog post, Forrester Analyst Gina Sverdlov points out that especially among younger internet using adults, being online is a fluid concept.
One of the biggest revelations in this year’s data was the change in attitude of consumers — particularly younger ones — toward the Internet. Since we started tracking this information in 1997, we have only seen the amount of time spent online increasing. But Forrester’s 2012 data shows that US online adults are now reporting a decline in the amount of time they spend using the Internet compared with 2011 and 2010.

What’s going on? Our analysis revealed that “being online” is becoming a fluid concept. Consumers no longer consider some of the online activities they perform to be activities related to “using the Internet.” In fact, given the various types of connected devices that US consumers own, many people are connected and logged on (automatically) at all times. The Internet has become such a normal part of their lives that consumers don’t register that they are using the Internet when they’re on Facebook, for example. It’s only when they are actively doing a specific task, like search, that they consider this to be time that they’re spending online.
You can see this trend in this graphic, along with falling trends in offline activities such as watching TV and reading newspapers among adults.
As you can see, there is a drop in the amount of time people spend using the internet. However, as Forrester points out, that doesn't actually reflect people's true online activity. People are using more services and devices that are connected by default to the internet which doesn't resonate as online activity for many people. When people use smart phone applications, for instance, those applications may connect to the internet, but it is not a conscious "I am connecting to the internet" activity. It is just "I am checking Facebook/listening to Pandora/Watching Netflix/etc." With online connectivity as the default for the media choices people make, it would be expected that people would be less likely to consider that "online" behavior. As the rising generation grows up with such online-by-default choices, they will be even more likely to not consider it online activity.

What this means for those media companies that are showing a steady decline in the above graphic, and others not listed, is that if your services do not take advantage of the connected devices the current and rising generation own and use, then you might find yourself out of business. We see this happening now. Despite what some legacy industries might believe or want, that decline in offline activity is not going to reverse itself. The more the legacy industries fight that shift in consumer behavior, the faster they will find themselves irrelevant. The best thing for these industries to do is to embrace that fluid online concept and capture the attention of the rising generation.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 3:39am

    And yet, the entertainment industries refuse to harness the full power of the Internet to give fans a service that they want with the content they want and in a way they want. Worse, they insist on demonising and even criminalising all of the very technologies that can help them reach so many more people and greatly increase profits.

    Business? What business? We want to control the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Duke (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 3:47am

    This reminds me of an excellent essay entitled How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet, which I think should be mandatory reading for anyone reporting, legislating etc. on the Internet.

    I'm trying to pick out a few key insightful quotes, but I'll just end up pasting the whole thing, so go and read it. There's some stuff on "new technologies" and how we talk about them and try to resist them, suggesting the Internet is "just a silly fad", some stuff on interactivity and old v new media, why it *isn't* a traditional publishing system and so on.

    Here is probably the most relevant quote, although more aimed at computers than the Internet specifically:
    Another problem with the net is that it’s still ‘technology’, and ‘technology’, as the computer scientist Bran Ferren memorably defined it, is ‘stuff that doesn’t work yet.’ We no longer think of chairs as technology, we just think of them as chairs. But there was a time when we hadn’t worked out how many legs chairs should have, how tall they should be, and they would often ‘crash’ when we tried to use them. Before long, computers will be as trivial and plentiful as chairs (and a couple of decades or so after that, as sheets of paper or grains of sand) and we will cease to be aware of the things. In fact I’m sure we will look back on this last decade and wonder how we could ever have mistaken what we were doing with them for ‘productivity.’

    Of course, the depressing thing about this article is that it was written by Douglas Adams, over 13 years ago, and we still seem to be stuck with computers and the Internet being "technology", we still get special mentions in the news when a crime is committed "on the Internet" (or when there's a risk that terrorists might plot their schemes "on the Internet."

    Still, this data suggests that we are getting there...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 3:57am

    Re:

    Of course, the depressing thing about this article is that it was written by Douglas Adams, over 13 years ago, and we still seem to be stuck with computers and the Internet being "technology", we still get special mentions in the news when a crime is committed "on the Internet" (or when there's a risk that terrorists might plot their schemes "on the Internet."
    ------
    This is because of government friendly media brainwashing that is bought by idiots who are incapable of having a single independent thought.

    The government, in league with people like Murdoch media, feed us a load of bullshit about 'big bad terrorists' or 'the scourge of pedophiles' and 'the wild west Internet'. People are stupid and they buy it and it allows politicians to pass ever more draconian laws and use censorship and criminalisation to restrict our freedom.

    That is why we are not as far on as we should be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Liz (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 4:00am

    This isn't very surprising. Previously logging onto the internet was an actual act on the part of the user. Turn on your PC, load up an ISP's software, and then actively log online.

    These days, you just flip open your phone and there you are. Sometimes you have to enter a wifi password but generally it's not all that different than turning on the TV.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Oct 29th, 2012 @ 4:01am

    Re:

    Yes, the thing that many people forget about the entertainment industries is that they don't really ever focus on profit, they care far more about charging both creators and consumers for the benefit of standing between them. That used to be a lucrative business, but the internet has made that about as valuable as Enron stock.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    Re:

    because technology gives them the ability to make it all available with lower costs. It is the lower costs that terrifies them. They always made x and feel that they always should make x+.
    All they can see is if we stop getting as much for delivering content, we will make less. People will buy less plastic discs if they can just stream or download it, and without our plastic disc money we will fail!
    They lack the ability to see their own history, the huge struggle against VHS coming to steal their money... and it was a huge cash cow once they embraced it.

    They lack the ability to see that if a friend shares a track with someone else, that is better exposure than they can pay for. All they see is their share of the 99 cents Itunes would have collected going away, ignoring that if that new person likes it they will acquire more (barring them making it a huge pain in the ass to acquire).

    People want to buy their content, not a license entangled with 100 clauses and controls to protect a business model attached. They can't see the more they seek control, the more they destroy their customer base.

    I want to watch my "free" digital copy of the movie you sold me, I do not want to log into 4 different accounts and make sure I have only an approved device to watch it on. I want to hit 3 buttons and watch it, where, when, and how I wanted. I do not need extra advertising for you, I do not want to enter a 15 digit 1 time use code each time I want to watch it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Oct 29th, 2012 @ 4:17am

    New Strategy for Old Media

    They should forget copyright, wasting their time chasing users and service providers for violations. They should instead do what the hipsters are doing these days: taking old business strategies and technologies, stamp "...on the Internet" on them, and then patent them to stop everyone else from using them for the next decade or so. They don't need a time machine to return the market to a bygone era of profitability, a plump Internet patent portfolio is the next best thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Oct 29th, 2012 @ 4:35am

    Re: Re:

    They can't see the more they seek control, the more they destroy their customer base.

    Indeed. The harder they try to extract "value" from their content, the less valuable it becomes to everyone else.

    Joe: Hey, that movie sounds great, I'd at least pay the price of a ticket to download it!. Oh wait, it says here I can only play it on "approved" devices, and that I have to always be signed in to an account to prove that I paid for it every time I watch it. Well, I would only pay a buck for that.

    MPAA: The Internet isn't profitable!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 4:46am

    "connecting to the internet for a variety of everyday activities including watching tv and movies, listening to music, reading news and gaming."

    Glaring omissions? ... social networking, email, shopping, selling stuff, research ...

    The internet is not a broadcast medium, it is a communications medium.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Jake, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 4:49am

    It's an interesting philosophical question, really. Do I count as "using the Internet" when I'm streaming radio in the background while I read a book?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 4:59am

    Re: New Strategy for Old Media

    I'd chastise you for giving them ideas, but considering that more and more this is exactly what they're doing, I think you might be a little late with your suggestion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Oct 29th, 2012 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re: New Strategy for Old Media

    Hardly. You're talking about guys who think the Internet is just a bunch of tubes full of rats and pirates. They don't create Internet innovations, or even try to pretend to do so paper (aka patents), they just keep trying to use old fashioned copyright to extort money out of those who do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    yet they manage to claim pirates are stealing billions from them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re:

    I think their biggest fear is that they will be rendered redundant, which is beginning to happen to the music labels, and could happen to the movie/tv industry. A vibrant and varied culture exists best when there is no choke point of of gatekeeper/publishers selecting what the public can see. If the legacy industries cannot stop the use of the Internet for content distribution then in the long run they are doomed as more and more content is published outside their control.
    Interestingly the book publishers probably have a future in providing print copies of popular freely distributed works. Many people still prefer a real book for entertainment reading. Their editing role will be replaced by peer review on the network.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 5:28am

    "it is not a conscience"

    Were you conscious when you wrote that? Do any of you writers ever go back and check your work? Or do you just slap up the first draft? Or just not care about spelling? -- No, I suspect it's due to what's outlined in the piece: just more evidence of the general "dumbening", of people without concern for precise definitions, and even losing connection to reality.
    It's globulating.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 5:40am

    Re: "it is not a conscience"

    "...just more evidence of the general "dumbening", of people without concern for precise definitions, and even losing connection to reality."

    Must...resist...cheap...shot...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    Re: "it is not a conscience"

    Yawn

    Complaining about the writing and yet you will be back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day..........

    Don't you ever get tired of being a boring, repetitive idiot?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:00am

    Re: "it is not a conscience"

    Hey hasn't_got_a_clue, has it EVER occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, you're hated around here? That you have yet to have a comment worth reading? Since you're always commenting here, and always having those comments shredded, you must be a masochist. I would be a masochist too if I were to constantly argue against Islam to a group of Muslim fundamentalists.
    Sure people make spelling mistakes. No-one's perfect. Just say "Spelling Error, here's the correction" and move on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:20am

    Re: Re: "it is not a conscience"

    Since you're always commenting here, and always having those comments shredded, you must be a masochist. I would be a masochist too if I were to constantly argue against Islam to a group of Muslim fundamentalists.

    No, you would be a troll. Which is all that OOTB is. If instead of "having those comments shredded" everyone ignored him, he'd eventually grow tired of his game and go away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:27am

    Re: "it is not a conscience"

    No, he does it as a test to see if one of you trolls will come and whine at something... anything... in the article, even if you are fundamentally unable to complain about the content of the article or add anything of value. The ghods forbid you might actually say something 'positive'.

    [Boy, am I glad I scrolled down before posting a correction myself ;) ]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    dd, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    Neither philosophical, nor all that interesting. Do you count as "using electricity" when a light is shining in the background while you read a book?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Fine I will pay them for the electrons I have downloaded. How much is an electron going for these days?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    d d, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: "it is not a conscience"

    In this post he is complaining about the editing, not the writing. It's a mistake, and a particularly embarrassing one at that. Let's hope it's corrected soon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    Re: "it is not a conscience"

    It's called a typo. It happens, and yes, sometimes they get through editing (no post goes on the site without someone editing it). We fix them once we find out about them.

    I assume you've never made a typo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: "it is not a conscience"

    A typo assumes the error is due to typing one thing while meaning to type another. He means to type exactly what he types; he's just an idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Jeff (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    according to the latest price of gold on the market:
    $2.50 x 10exp(-22) per electron...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 8:44am

    . Consumers no longer consider some of the online activities they perform to be activities related to “using the Internet.”


    They aren't, really, in the traditional sense. Has the perception shifted, or was it really always this way? Doing appliance-like activities doesn't require a "presence" or any real work. You can make a loose comparison with radio. At one time, even simple listening required "using" a radio tuner, but the tech for broadcasting and receiving became better, then people just "listened". Only broadcasters, ham operators, and the like still "use" radio.

    Internet usage is similar. You can "go online" (I've never been a fan of the usage of "online" for this purpose, even less so of "going") and do something, or you can simply use a service which happens to be delivered by the series of tubes. But for some things which might still follow the traditional definition, like using FB, FB is item of note, not the internet. (Does anyone "surf" any more?)

    Hopefully I've conveyed what I'm thinking somewhat clearly. Now I've got to hit a couple Gopher servers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    Re:

    That. The Internet has become so common that I simply can't picture a computer without a connection. It's interesting. I recently bought a tablet with wi-fi only (no mobile connection) and while it is useful for me I now regret not having bought it with capability of using a permanent mobile connection.

    The downside comes when the idiots in charge decide that an always-online DRM is the way to go exactly because they assume we'll be online every single time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    davnel, Oct 29th, 2012 @ 8:55am

    Yeah, until the service goes away, then it's "OMG what am I gonna do?". We need to get a life, folks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    Maybe it's time to start saying "Offline"

    Start referring to people who are not online as being offline.

    It's normal to be online. It's normal to have electricity and indoor plumbing. We refer to people who don't have these as being the exceptions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: "it is not a conscience"

    It's just part of his commitment to being an obnoxious human being. He could have pointed the typo in a polite and reasonable way as many did before but it would divert him from his purpose..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    They aren't, really, in the traditional sense. Has the perception shifted, or was it really always this way?

    If the service you're using stops working when you don't have an internet connection, then you're using the internet. The difference is now more people don't realize it. Netflix? Internet. FB? Internet. IMDB? Internet (right in the name even). Google Maps? Pandora? News reader? Internet. Etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Chris Brand (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    I saw this recently

    when a friend of mine posted to facebook that he currently had no internet connection. He was completely serious, replying "I can still access facebook through my phone" when I questioned it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re:

    They lack the ability to see that if a friend shares a track with someone else, that is better exposure than they can pay for. All they see is their share of the 99 cents Itunes would have collected going away, ignoring that if that new person likes it they will acquire more (barring them making it a huge pain in the ass to acquire).

    This. I recently was sent a link to the We Are Legion movie on youtube. Watched it, then went out to try and find it on DVD. Pre-orders available from the vendor. Type of movie I am interested in watching again (like Freedom Downtime, which I still occasionally watch.) Forwarded the link off to a dozen more friends, and suspect at least one will also buy the video.

    I want to watch my "free" digital copy of the movie you sold me, I do not want to log into 4 different accounts and make sure I have only an approved device to watch it on. I want to hit 3 buttons and watch it, where, when, and how I wanted. I do not need extra advertising for you, I do not want to enter a 15 digit 1 time use code each time I want to watch it.

    If the digital version of We Are Legion is DRM'd, I am gonna be pissed. They say it is DRM-Free on the site, and I believe them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Duke (profile), Oct 29th, 2012 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re:

    This can become a rather serious question when combined with badly-drafted laws. The UK's upcoming mass-surveillance law is supposed to apply to any "system ... that exists ... for the purpose of facilitating the transmission of communications by any means involving the use of electrical or electro-magnetic energy." Now... electro-magnetic energy includes light, and sight runs of light, so by a literal interpretation, this would include hand-/smoke-signals, deadtree format books, films and videos and absolutely anything other than sound and touch (unless you include the electric signals within the brain).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Kevin (profile), Oct 30th, 2012 @ 6:53am

    A more common term

    Frightening that not so long ago one would have to call another and ask them if they could go online for a period of time. The answer was usually 'Sure, but can't stay on for long, expecting a call soon"
    Now the call/email/text message would tell one how long a person would be offline, now abnormal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This