Using the Internet for e-mail made the top of the list in a recent Harris Interactive poll, as reported by Robyn Greenspan for Clickz.com yesterday. On the bottom of the list, according to the Dec. 2003 survey: VoIP or phoning over the Web and participation in chat rooms. Only 5% of those surveyed often or very often participated in chat rooms as compared to 6% in Dec. 2000, and a mere 3% made calls via the Web often or very often.
VoIP is a relatively new technology, so it's not surprising that it hasn't caught on yet. (Anne Stuart explored the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP for businesses in the March 2003 article, "Good Call," and Brian Clark recently discussed its shortcomings in a March 2004 "The Best Bang for Your Tech Buck.") What is surprising, however, is that activities like travel planning and reservations, bill paying, and searching for jobs, which have been around for quite a while, are struggling to gain more users.
More anonymous activities like exploring new sites; conducting research for school or work; and gathering information on products and services are more likely to be performed by the users surveyed in the Harris Interactive poll.