As Australian internet users hone their multi-tasking skills,
technology ownership continues to expand year-on-year, in particular
for products with wireless capabilities, according to internet
measurement company Nielsen Online’s Internet and Technology Report released at the start of the month.

  • Multi-tasking on the rise – Aussies clock up 89.2 hours’ media usage per week
  • Broadband reaches saturation as 97% sign up for fast speed internet

The Nielsen Online report shows that household ownership of desktop computers has declined by 10 points in the past 12 months while ownership of wireless technology such as laptops has jumped from 49% to 63% in 2008 and wireless LAN ownership is up more than 20 pts to 53%. (See Chart 1).

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%.

Tony Marlow, research director for Nielsen Online noted:

“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.”

“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. (See Chart 2).

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.