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iTunes Popularity to Surpass RealPlayer in 2007 - European Broadband Growth Slows - US Broadband Penetration Grows to 79.1% Among Active Internet Users - February 2007 Bandwidth Report

Summary: Unique iTunes users will exceed RealPlayer users by the first half of 2007, according to projections by Website Optimization. European broadband penetration growth is slowing as the US approaches 80% penetration among active Internet users.

Users of iTunes grew by 47.5% over the past year, while the other streaming media players had single-digit growth. At current growth rates iTunes users will exceed RealPlayer users by the second quarter of 2007 (see Figure 1). European broadband growth has decreased in recent months. US broadband growth slowed a bit in January, growing by 0.62% percentage points to 79.1% among active Internet users.

streaming media players growth itunes, realmedia, quicktime, and windows media

Figure 1: Streaming Media Player Growth
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings and Website Optimization

iTunes Player Usage Grows 47.5% in 2006

Over the past year, the number of unique users of Apple's iTunes player grew by 47.5%. Over the same time period, RealPlayer users grew by 9.1%, QuickTime by 8.7%, and Windows Media Player grew by 2.0% according to data provided by Nielsen//NetRatings (see Table 1). At current growth rates, iTunes should pass RealPlayer in unique users by the second quarter of 2007. Apple should be whistling a happy tune this year. While iTunes continues to show strong double-digit growth rates, Windows Media Player growth appeared to slow over the past year.

Table 1: Streaming Media Player Growth Comparison (Unique Audience [000])
Player Nov-05Jan-06Nov-06Jan-07YOY
Apple QuickTime11,77112,81712,67013,9348.7%
iTunes13,92218,56823,46027,39647.5%
RealPlayer26,26228,68730,56631,3099.1%
Windows Media Player68,75871,11271,70572,5102.0%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

European Broadband Growth Slows

Overall, broadband take-up decreased across Europe from 23% to 14% growth in the half year period before September 2006, according to ECTA. ECTA attributes the slower growth in broadband uptake to incumbent telecommunication monopolies in key countries. However, there were some countries that exhibited higher growth rates such as Germany (15%), Ireland (30%) and Greece (63%). The UK passed Belgium (2.9% growth) to become fifth among European countries in broadband penetration (see Figure 2). Denmark leads all European countries surveyed with a 30.3% broadband penetration rate, followed by the Netherlands at 29.8%, Finland at 26%, Sweden at 24.4%, and the UK at 20.2% broadband penetration per capita, according to data provided by ECTA. The Netherlands should pass Denmark in broadband penetration this year, due to their higher growth rate of 11.1% versus Denmark's 3.6%. The Office of National Statistics reported that 79.2% of all connections to the Internet in the UK are via broadband, with most people connecting at 2Mb/sec or less.

evolution in broadband penetration rates european countries

Figure 2: Evolution of Broadband Penetration Rates for European Countries 2003 - 2006
Source: ECTA, used with permission.

Home Connectivity in the US

US broadband penetration among active Internet users grew to 79.07% in January 2007. Narrowband users connecting at 56Kbps or less now comprise 20.93% of active Internet users, down 0.62 percentage points from 21.55% in December 2006 (see Figure 3).

Web Connection Speed Trends - Home Users (US)

Web Connection Speed Trends January 2007 - U.S. home users

Figure 3: Web Connection Speed Trends - Home Users (US)
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

Broadband Growth Trends in the US

In January 2007, broadband penetration in US homes grew 0.62 percentage points to 79.03%, up from 78.45% in December. This increase of 0.62 points is below the average increase in broadband of 0.9 points per month over the last six months (see Figure 4). At current growth rates US broadband penetration should break 80% among active Internet users by March 2007.

Broadband Adoption Growth Trend - Home Users (US)

Broadband Adoption Growth Trend - January 2007 - U.S. home users

Figure 4. Broadband Adoption Growth Trend - Home Users (US)
Extrapolated from Nielsen//NetRatings data

Work Connectivity

As of January 2007, 93.3% of US workers were on broadband, up 1.01 percentage points from the 92.29% share in December. At work 6.7% connect at 56Kbps or less (see Figure 5).

Web Connection Speed Trends - Work Users (US)

Web Connection Speed Trends - January 2007 - U.S. work users

Figure 5: Web Connection Speed Trends - Work Users (US)
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

Further Reading

European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA)
Provided the European broadband data in their Broadband Scorecard Q3 2006. Feb. 1, 2007.
Nielsen//NetRatings
Provided the streaming media player data and US broadband penetration data for active Internet users for the Bandwidth Report.
Office of National Statistics
This UK government department provides official statistics for the public. See their "Internet Connectivity: December 2006" report of Feb. 20, 2007 for details.
Parks Associates
U.S. residential broadband penetration will exceed 50% in 2007, according to the "Digital Lifestyles: 2007 Outlook" report from Parks Associates. Residential subscriptions to broadband Internet services surged 20% in 2006 to exceed 50 million U.S. households. The report estimates U.S. residential broadband subscriptions will surpass 60 million households by year-end 2007, accounting for 55% of all U.S. households. Feb. 15, 2007.

By website optimization on 26 Feb 2007 AM

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