37 Million PCs Used for E-Commerce

More than 37 million PCs have been used for e-commerce and related activities as of January 1999, according to research by Ziff-Davis’ InfoBeads. The activities ranged from purchasing products and services to financial transactions and shopping.

The findings come from Infobeads’ latest Technology User Profile and represent a 41 percent increase from the estimated 26.4 million PCs used for e-commerce last year.

The number of PCs actually used to make purchases exceeded 20 million, up 72 percent from last year’s 11.6 million. When financial transactions, such as banking and stock trading are included, the figure jumps to 26.0 million versus 16.3 million last year (see table).

While e-commerce may not have reached critical mass yet, 1998 was an important year,” said InfoBeads analyst Miran Chun. “Last year, the e-commerce hype gave way to real purchases and lured curious shoppers to at least browse the Web for goods.”

The largest category of online purchases was consumer products and services. According to InfoBeads, 16 million PCs were used to buy books, flowers, and travel services, among other things. The home segment accounted for more than half of the total market in each activity, except for the purchase of PCs and printers.

The number of PCs used to hunt for products and services to purchase either online or offline increased from 21.8 million last year to 29.7 million this year, according to InfoBeads.

“The growth in buyers is outpacing shoppers as more shoppers take the plunge and make purchases online,” Chun said. “Still the top e-commerce activity was learning about products for offline purchase. When these users get comfortable completing the whole purchase cycle online, instead of just collecting information, the number of buyers will surge tremendously.”

The Technology User Profile is an annual survey of more than 11,000 US PC users.

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