New data from market research company Media Metrix shows that Microsoft, Walt Disney Online, Yahoo and Amazon.com are doing well in the battle for 'eyeballs' on the World Wide Web. Netscape's and Time Warner's Web sites, on the other hand, are losing market share.
The Media Metrix Web site statistics work in a similar way to TV ratings. A panel of 28,000 north American Web users report each month on which sites they have visited during the period.
The top 10 domains for home users in December are headed by aol.com, the Web site of online service provider America Online. Forty six per cent of Web users visited aol.com at least once in December. The top three has remained fairly stable in recent months. Number two Yahoo is slowly closing in - it moved from 36.8 per cent in July to 39.1 per cent in December.
Netscape, in third position, has been losing ground steadily over the past few months, falling back to 26.5 per cent, with the Microsoft.com Web site (not including MSN) closing in at 23.9 per cent. This does not bode well for Netscape's announced intention to derive more income from its Web site to compensate for the fact that it is now giving away its browser for free.
For Web users who access the Web from work, Yahoo.com is the top domain at 48.3 per cent, strengthening its lead. Netscape is number two, but is losing share here, too. AOL and Microsoft.com come in at three and four.
Media Metrix offers a separate ranking of Web sites that offer news, information or entertainment for home users. This excludes Web search engines such as Yahoo and Infoseek, as well as the America Online site.
The list is topped by the news-oriented ZDNet, visited by 7.9 per cent of home users, but with Disney Online closing in at seven per cent. For professional users, ZDNet is also the number one news/information/entertainment site with 15 per cent, followed by weather.com (eight per cent) and usatoday.com (7.7 per cent).
When different domains belonging to the same company are added up, a different picture emerges. Microsoft is now the number one with 32.7 of all home users visiting one or other Microsoft-owned site. Disney comes a distant second with 13.7 per cent. For office users, Microsoft also comes in number one at 39.5 per cent, with ZDNet sites attracting 16.7 per cent.
The news is less good for MSNBC, the joint venture between Microsoft and NBC, which has been losing viewers in recent months and is now down to 3.3 per cent.
The top 10 for the most visited online shopping sites, both from home and from work, shows an unexpected new headrunner: bluemountainarts.com, which overtook online bookshop Amazon and the number three, CNET Software Download Services.
However, this would appear to be a seasonal phenomenon. Bluemountainarts is a free service that allows users to send animated, musical greeting cards. Amazon, though relegated to second place in December's rankings, has steadily gained market share over the past few months, moving from 8.6 per cent in November to 8.8 per cent in December.
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