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Wednesday, 04 March 2009 02:19

Australians cut wires to PCs and go mobile

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A new report has confirmed that PC users in Australia are ditching their desktops and fixed line Internet connections while turning to notebooks and wireless technology. The report shows that the percentage of homes owning notebooks is fast approaching that of desktops and that broadband usage has reached saturation point.

According to Nielsen Online’s Internet and Technology Report, household ownership of desktop computers has declined by 10 points in the past 12 months to 82% while ownership of wireless technology such as laptops has jumped from 49% to 63% in 2008. Wireless LAN ownership is up more than 20 points to 53%.

The use of Internet capable mobile devices, measured for the first time, has shown to be significant with 43% of homes owning them.

In addition, more Australians than ever before are signing up to broadband services – in 2007 84% of Australian Internet users reported to have broadband access at home. In 2008 that figure reached 97%.

“As Australian Internet users become increasingly less wired in the ways they access the Internet, a greater focus is being placed on laptop-style computers rather than fixed desktops,” notes Tony Marlow, Research Director for Nielsen Online. “Looking ahead, we expect this trend to continue in 2009 and beyond, particularly for digital free-to-air TV, laptop computers and wireless LAN.”

The number of hours Australians spend consuming media also continued to climb in 2008, reaching 89.2 hours per week compared to 84.4 hours in 2007 and just 71.4 hours in 2006. New technology was the main driver of the increased consumption, with the amount of time spent online up from 13.7 hours in 2007 to 16.1 hours in 2008, while PC Video (video either downloaded or viewed on a computer) usage jumped from 2.5 hours to 4.6 hours, and video games usage was up from 4.6 hours to 5.4 hours.

This increase in consumption has lead to an increase in the amount of media multi-tasking undertaken by Australians – over three in five Internet users (61%) watch television while online and half (50%) use the Internet while listening to the radio. Of those consumers who report multi-tasking, the Internet is most commonly cited as the primary focus.

“Given the average Australian is only awake for around 112 per week, it’s surprising just how many of those waking hours are dedicated to media consumption,” observes Marlow. “We’ve seen some pretty extraordinary increases in the past few years, however, we would anticipate a levelling out in consumption hours over the next few years as Australians simply run out of hours in the day.”

The Nielsen report also reveals that mobile ownership has almost reached saturation point in Australia, with 92% now reporting to own a mobile phone. Overall device capabilities and use of a range of mobile functions such as GPS navigation, document reader and mobile Internet has also seen an increase compared to 12 months ago, particularly for younger users (aged 16 to 29 years), although cost remains a key barrier for expanded mobile capabilities.

The full report with charts can be viewed here.

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Stan Beer

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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