NATIONAL

Net searches surge

NET SAVVY: Finding her way around the world wide web.  

NEW YORK: The number of people who use Internet search engines to find information has jumped over the last year in the United States, claiming a solid No. 2 spot behind e-mail among online tasks, a new study finds.

Of the 94 million American adults who went online on a given autumn day this year, 63 per cent used a search engine, compared with 56 per cent in June 2004, the Pew Internet and American Life Project said on Sunday.

Until recently, search and news have been running neck-and-neck for the No. 2 spot among Internet tasks, said the project's director. But search had a dramatic jump over the past year to widen the gap over news, used by 46 per cent of the Internet's daily population.

Use of search engines was higher among users who are richer and better educated, as well as those with broadband connections.

E-mail remains the most popular application, used by 77 per cent of the daily sampled population.

Separate tracking by comScore Media Metrix finds that users averaged 24 minutes a day on e-mail, compared with less than four minutes for search. Pew researchers note that the gap signals that e-mail remains a powerful application.

Nonetheless, although the number of daily e-mail users has grown because of increases in the overall online population, the percentage of the daily population accessing e-mail has dropped. It was 85 per cent in the 2004 survey.

The telephone-based survey was conducted from September 13 to October 14. — AP