Streaming Media Apps Popping Up Everywhere

Streaming media players and instant messaging (IM) software have become common components on most home computers in the US, according to a report by PC Data.

The “Home PC Portrait™” found that nearly 79 percent of home Internet users have installed streaming media players on their computers. Real Player, the leading brand is installed on 80.8 percent of home PCs. Microsoft’s Windows Media Player is second with 55.3 percent.

The report also revealed the growing use of IM software, which enables faster, real-time communication than email. Almost two-thirds (60.4 percent) of home Internet users have IM software installed to communicate and share files. Of those, almost 63 percent have installed AOL’s Instant Messenger and 31 percent installed ICQ. MSN Messenger Service is installed on 30.7 percent of computers.

“The criticism that the Internet is an impersonal medium is no longer true,” said Steve Koenig, senior analyst for PC Data. “Software applications that enable streaming media and instant messages have transformed the home computer into an active and fluid exchange of music, video feeds, and dialog. As Internet access speeds increase and users become more technically sophisticated, these applications will expand to make the Internet experience more animated and exciting.”

Another Internet application that has seen its name all over the news recently, is also seeing an increase in popularity. The Napster application climbed from 1.1 million unique users at home in February of 2000 to 4.9 million unique users in July, a 345 percent increase, according to Media Metrix. Napster use also grew at work: from 417,000 unique users in May 2000 to 887,000 US users in July.

“The key to Napster’s success is that its users represent the full spectrum of PC users, not just the youth with time on their hands and a passion for music,” said Bruce Ryon, senior VP of the New Media Group, Media Metrix. “While Napster has not yet gained widespread popularity similar to other music-related applications such as multimedia players, it is proving to be a seminal application capable of rapid growth and influence on the sharing and distribution of music files.”

Multimedia Player, Napster Use at Home
Unique Users (000)
Jan. Feb. March April May June July
Total Online
Computer Users
78,248 77,741 76,639 78,266 77,759 77,591 79,163
Multimedia Player
31,304 36,005 32,828 34,529 35,354 35,664 37,477
Napster Users * 1,109 1,744 2,897 3,166 4,670 4,936
* unreported data
Source: Media Metrix

Related reading