Information is the new killer app

Well, we always said so...
Written by Ben King, Contributor

Well, we always said so...

Forget buying trainers or groceries. The internet is about exploring an infinite landscape of information, and the most successful sites of last year were the ones that did just that. Internet measurement company Nielsen//Netratings has named a bevy of sites that saw massive rises in traffic over the past year. Top of the list is FriendsReunited, the school-friend location service that saw its traffic rocket 3,600 per cent in the six months to October 2001. Other sites, like the music file swapping service Napster, and search engines Google and Ask also saw massive increases in traffic. The common denominator they all share is the fact that that they deal not in physical goods, but information. The report said: "What links these sites is how well they capture what made the internet grab users' imaginations in the first place - the sense of infinite information,
infinite convenience, and infinite possibilities." "The thrill of the internet is the way it can bring memories to life, in print or
MP3 or even in real life. These sites are portals in the truest sense of the term
- information gateways with the potential to deliver users anything they
want." Even eBay.co.uk, which allows users to exchange goods in an auction, meets this description because it captures the spirit of infinite possibility - almost anything a buyer could wish for has been auctioned on the site, from a World War Two Spitfire aircraft to a dot-com entrepreneur. Commenting on the reasons for the shift, Nielsen//Netratings internet analyst Tom Ewing said: "My hunch is that when users were less experienced at using the web, the sites that guided them around experienced massive growth." "Now that more users are getting to know the web, that hand-holding approach is becoming less relevant."
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