The Demographics of Technology Users

The face of technology users continues to change. According to the Pew Internet & American Life study, "a greater portion of enthusiastic tech users find it more difficult to do without their computer, cell phone and internet than their television and landline telephone". Thirty one percent of the population are considered heavy technology users.

Many of this "tech elite" access the internet wirelessly and pay for online content. For this group, email is as important as the telephone.

Here is the breakdown of technology users by groups:

· Young tech elites: comprise 6% of the population and their average age is 22 years old. All of them have internet access and most of them have cell phones, This group heavily participates in online interactivity including: music downloads, participation in online groups, viewing streaming audio and video clips. Seventeen percent of this group has logged on to the internet using a wireless internet connection.

· Old wired baby boomers: comprise 6% of the population and their average age is 52. This group spends more money online than any other group. They all have internet access and 82% have cell phones. They actively gather information online and use the internet for transactions.

· Wired GenXers: comprise 18% of the population and their average age is 36. All of them use the internet. Cell phone use is 82%. They also make use of interactive aspects of the internet.

· Wired Senior Men: comprise only 1% of the population and are very highly educated. Their average age is 70 and they have been online for about 10 years. Online activities include information gathering and online transactions.

· Young Marrieds: comprise 15% of the population and their average age is 24. Internet use is 66%, while 56% have cell phones. Most of them are likely to be married with children.

· Low-Tech Older Baby Boomers: make up 21% of the population and their average age is 54. Internet use is 51% while more of them (60%) have cell phones. This group has a lower than average education and income.

· Unwired Baby Boomers: comprise 16% of the population, with an average age of 39. Internet use is 45% and 69% have cell phones. They tend to be married with children and do not have a lot of free time to devote to technology.

· Low-Tech Elderly: make up 16% of the population and have an average age of 73. Internet use is 12% and 39% of them have a cell phone. This group is oriented to traditional media with 78% watching the news on TV every day.

With the decline of the average size family in America, we have filled our homes with computers and telephones to gather information. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States 2002, "In the 1990s, the average yearly expenditure by Americans for media and information services rose from $365.42 to $640.86 per person, a growth in real terms of 32%."

Who is your website built for, and which group/groups are you targeting with your message? Is there interactivity on your website? Do you offer ecommerce? Can visitors post comments or reviews? Can they access your website on their cell phones?

CNN posted an article this month stating that phones and handhelds may replace laptops. The market will see devices that have the ability to access the internet, manage contacts, play music, take excellent photos, play games, and make cell phone calls.

Anne Chen from eWeek states in her article on Mobile Computing that, "as cell phones and PDAs become ubiquitous and gain the ability to handle voice, e-mail, calendaring and instant messaging; workers will use these mobile devices to connect to an increasing number of applications."

Integration and convergence are the buzz words for 2004. Get your website ready for the next wave of technology!


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