"If consumers feel they are being made to wear blinkers they may rear up and deliver a nasty kick to their handlers," warns a new report on Internet usage and services.
Graham Taylor, senior vice president of Woking-based Inteco Corp, says: "The Internet remains a frustrating experience for many users. Last year we could cite slow modems and lack of bandwidth for slow services, but many users have ISDN to the desktop today, and delivery is still slow. The sheer quantity of information is making it impossible for search engines to find quality material."
When Inteco surveyed 1,000 users about factors limiting their usage of the Internet and online services, lack of time was cited as the main reason, but what emerged was a growing frustration with poor response times, difficulty in finding material and concerns over cost and quality.
The analysts warn that the quality of Web content has not kept pace with the explosion in quantity, and consumers are paying a high per minute price for dross.
Equally, "the increase in content has outstripped many search engines' ability to return useful, relevant links, making it more difficult for users to find what they are looking for."
The mix of users is changing, and Inteco believes this has a bearing on levels of satisfaction. Early adopters were more tolerant of technology's shortcomings, but the new generation of users are representative of the general population, and "they have an expectation that things will work first time, all the time."
Another big bugbear is difficulty in locating material. Inteco argues that this, "indicates the value of fast, reliable gateways or portals...and those who establish and maintain their reputation stand to gain much, not only from advertising revenue, but from their ability to direct traffic."
Directing traffic can be a double-edged sword, warns Taylor.
"A customised gateway that offers relevant links and services will become an increasingly valuable resource to users. But if they restrict choices, customers will go elsewhere or revert to using search-engines, even if it is frustrating and time consuming."
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