Search continues to gain ground on email as the killer app on the Internet. Almost half (49%) of the people in the US use search in a typical day; this figure increased from 40% in September 2005. According to a recently released Pew/Internet study, email usage seems to be approaching a saturation point with 60% of people saying they use email in a typical day, up from 52% six years ago.
When the topic of search is discussed and written about, a lot of people automatically think of Google but the growth in search (according to the Pew study) is really coming from all directions. Search engine sites like Google, Yahoo! and Ask.com, certainly contribute to the growth of search but commercial websites and many browsers have search functionality as well. The commercial search segment is growing quickly as are specialty search sites.
Email appears to be slowing down. My guess is that all that spam may have something to do with it but a closer look suggests there are other factors involved. If you're under 35, you might be more likely to communicate with your friends and family via texting or instant messaging. This form of communication isn't counted as using email in the Pew study. It seems like email is being used more in business applications but not so much for social communications, at least for the younger set. Let's not forget the social networking sites that are growing in popularity as ways to stay in touch with friends and family, further eroding some of what was once email traffic.
Search continues to grow and has become part of how we live. We use it to find concert tickets, information on breast cancer, directions to a restaurant, finding a hotel, completing a homework assignment or settling a bet among friends. We search for everything.
Dan McKillen is CEO, president of the HealthDay news service