ONLINE OXYGEN

 

First published in 2003 | This is another Big Trend. Just consider the fact that these days, consumers don't want online access anywhere/anytime, they absolutely CRAVE it! From airports to living rooms to roof gardens to classrooms to city parks, people go to great lengths to get a dose of what TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed ONLINE OXYGEN. Seven years after the first web sites started popping up, and email made its way from science labs to office desks and living rooms, 600 million consumers worldwide are beginning to see online access as an absolute necessity, and there are no signs that the pace of integrating online access into daily life is slowing down.

Some global figures:

Dialing in is out, fast 24/7 access is IN. One third of all American internet users now have access to a broadband connection, a 50% jump compared to last year. In countries like Canada and South Korea, 50% of all internet users enjoy unlimited fast access (source: Pew Internet). In Europe, the number of broadband connections increased 136% over the last 12 months, with Spain, France and the Netherlands leading the pack.

On the wireless front (and this is where ONLINE OXYGEN could almost be taken literally), Intel, AT&T, T-Mobile and a host of other IT and telco companies are urging companies and consumers in the US and EU to 'UNWIRE', relentlessly promoting WiFi enabled laptops and installing 'hot spots' in thousands of locations like airports, Starbucks cafes, Borders bookstores, hotels and other commercial and public spaces.

In fact, Intel's wireless chip 'Centrino' will be installed in more than half of all new notebooks worldwide as of next quarter. Notebook/laptop owners will be able to instantly connect from an estimated 9,700 'hotspots' this year, increasing to nearly 118,000 wireless hot zones by 2006 (source: IDC). And yes, that includes the 17 Starbucks cafes in Shanghai already offering wireless access with your latte, courtesy of Tian Yi Tong (Shanghai Telecom's service). To call this a global phenomenon is almost an understatement.

And we haven't even touched upon the looming explosion in WiFi enabled PDAs and phones. 'Traditional' cell/mobile phones connecting to the Internet at high speed will also be a common sight: already, Vodafone is plastering European business mags with its 'Mobile Connect Card' ads: basically a card with a small antenna that allows you to dial in from your laptop wherever Vodafone has a signal (and they're everywhere these days!).

Meanwhile, at home, Americans are installing wireless networks like there is no tomorrow. The number of home network units in the US has grown from less that one million units in 2001 to approximately eight million units in 2002 and is expected to reach over 60 million units in 2005 (source: In-Stat MDR).

Now, the above may sound like a lot of tech, and yes, the IT industry is aggressively pushing wireless and broadband, but TRENDWATCHING.COM has not yet spotted any consumers who are discontent with fast internet or being able to log in wherever they are. Au contraire, consider the following random ONLINE OXYGEN facts and figures:

-- The Internet has overtaken television as the most heavily used medium among teenage boys in Hong Kong, according to new research from NFO WorldGroup.

-- AOL has found that the Internet is now the primary communication tool for US teenagers. Which is backed by new data from media metrics firm Edison Media Research: 34 percent of Americans chose the Internet as the most "cool and exciting" medium -- 1 percent less than television. The numbers were much higher among 12 to 34-year-olds, however: 46 percent voted the Internet as the "most essential" medium to their lives, while 29 percent picked TV.

-- An Ipsos-Reid survey asked Canadians the famous "desert island" question, in which respondents are asked what they would want to have with them in the event of being stranded on a desert island. The majority (51 percent) of online Canadian families said they would bring their PC over their telephone (21 percent) and television (12 percent)!

-- And it's not just teens and families: almost 20 percent of European seniors now have internet access, according to a new study from Forrester Research. The latest survey from the company indicates that the number of consumers older than 55 that are online has increased by 50 percent in two and a half years, up from almost 10 million in 2000 to more than 15 million at the end of 2002.

So is your business ready to deal with consumers (and employees!) who thrive on ONLINE OXYGEN? Have you considered partnering in any shape or form with one of the new kids on the block, from cross-media marketing companies to WiFi providers? Have you incorporated the opportunities and threats of broadband, wireless, and the popularity of 'being digital' in general, into your marketing, IT and distribution strategies? Have you allocated a suitable percentage of your advertising budget to online advertising, as that's where the action is? (Online ads total 10 percent of Volvo's entire marketing budget. And that was last year!).
Time to infuse your strategies and action plans with a blast of fresh air!

We will continue to closely track ONLINE OXYGEN as one of our key 'technology & behavior' trends; expect more real-life examples and opportunities in the months to come.

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AUGUST 2003
| We promised more on ONLINE OXYGEN, so here you are: while analysts and WiFi stakeholders are battling it out over everything from the expected number of hotspots in 2007 to the viability of WiFi business models in Mongolia, consumers buy more portable online devices than ever before, and sooner or later, they'll expect their digital life-lines to pick up an online connection, whether it comes from 'hotspots', '3G', '802.16a standard based networks' or other nerdy catchphrases. The following new facts, figures and initiatives are further building blocks for ONLINE OXYGEN:

-- Log in, and never log off again: laptop/notebook sales in the US now top sales of desktops in value, according to new data of NPD Techworld. More and more consumers and small businesses buy notebooks when they replace their older desktops. In May, laptops made up 40% of all US retail sales in units, and 54% of all computer revenue at retail. Nice combination with the soon to be ubiquitous Intel Centrino chips. And even nicer: WiFi devotees T-Mobile and Dell have teamed up to reward purchasers of Dell PDAs with 2,000 free minutes at T-Mobile hotspots.

-- Keep 'em connected and they'll eat sip and munch: in the next 6 months, McDonalds will be rolling out hotspots in hundreds of its restaurants in the US, following up on its New York trial (Big Mac, Big Tec). Meanwhile, Starbucks says that, thanks to WiFi access in its 200+ US stores, it is "seeing a broadening of use of their customers, from what was a morning-driven business to a business that is now significantly spread out throughout the day". Tasty.



-- Bored in Paris? Hard to imagine! Maybe when you're waiting for a train. Anyway, Paris's Gare du Nord railway station now offers WiFi services. Access can be had on some of the main platforms, the TGV Mezzanine, and the business lounge. Want to go online while ON a train? Bell Canada and VIA RAIL just kicked off the first North American pilot offering WiFi on a moving passenger train car. The Brits are right behind: London Paddington has its own hotspots now, and Virgin Trains is wiring (or rather, 'unwiring') its railway stations plus hopes to follow in VIA RAIL's footsteps in the near future.

-- On some Lufthansa and British Airways flights, passengers can now join a new kind of Mile High club; the airlines are experimenting with on-board WiFi access, using Boeing's ConneXion technology. Other airlines are interested too: Japan Airlines, Scandinavian carrier SAS, and Gulf Air are all looking into similar pilot services.

-- Meanwhile, back on the ground, Norwegian 'Statoil Detaljhandel AS' and Telenor announced the launch of wireless Internet zones at 300 Statoil petrol stations throughout Norway. The deployment is one of Europe's largest WiFi roll-outs and Statoil is the first major gas station chain to offer its customers wireless access.

-- For owners of recreational vehicles (RVs) who want to surf and check their mail, a growing number of upscale RV parks are rolling out WiFi networks: a great mix of fresh air and ONLINE OXYGEN. Even back-to-nature campgrounds are joining the craze: just in time for the Summer season, campground 'De Donkere Duinen' in The Netherlands offers free WiFi access on each of its 203 campsites .

-- Next step then is not having to leave your vehicle at all when you want to go online: Citroen showed off its WiFi equipped 'C3 Pluriel' at the Cannes Film Festival.

(Sources: hotspot.nl, WSJ, ZDNet, NPD Techworld, Edinburgh News)

Mmm... planes, trains and automobiles... a beautiful link between TRANSUMERISM and ONLINE OXYGEN is emerging! TRENDWATCHING.COM is ready to dream up some cool new 'while you travel' services. More in our September edition ;-) >> Email this trend to a friend.

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OCTOBER 2003 | We warned you this trend wouldn't fade or go all faddy: with 600 million consumers worldwide (or is it 700 million by now?) beginning to see online access as an absolute necessity, the pace of integrating online access into daily life is still picking up steam. Here's our random, but telling update for ONLINE OXYGEN:

25 September sees One Unwired Day, an Intel sponsored initiative giving the public free wireless Internet access across the US. Anyone with a wireless-enabled notebook can go online for free at thousands of participating 'hotspots', from Borders to McDonald's. And to encourage free downloading, copies of Business 2.0, music and videos from R.E.M. and Seal, and news via MSNBC.COM's new synch-and-go Wireless Traveler are also thrown in. Europe and Asia to be next?

23 million out of 30 million cell phones in South Korea are now Internet enabled: it will be a matter of time before the rest of the world follows. Nokia certainly gets it: they recently ran a series of ads showing their phones as the new sound systems, cameras, and game consoles. Add an online connection, and you have, well... TEENAGE ONLINE OXYGEN. ;-)

Speaking of teens: in the US, teenagers now spend 16.5 hours a week on surfing the Internet, chatting and writing e-mail (boys spend 16 hours, girls spend 17 hours in total) (source: BuzzBack Market Research). That's a lot of eyeballs: at what point in time will your marketing budget become your interactive marketing budget?

And our favorite for October: we spotted this shrine to modern life in Shanghai: we assume the Ericsson phone this woman is holding is Internet enabled. Now we're on the lookout for the first bronze wireless laptop statue. More ONLINE OXYGEN to follow next month. And the month after that. And the one after that. >> Email this trend to a friend.

LOOKING FOR IMAGES THAT ILLUSTRATE THIS TREND?
Check out our ONLINE OXYGEN image resource page.


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NOVEMBER 2003
| Remember last month's Nokia ads, telling customers that Nokia phones are the new gaming arcades, cameras and sound systems? Well, we spotted three more: the handset as the new mix tape, correspondent and organizer. If you give trend presentations or publish reports, and you're trying to convince your co-workers or clients that the world is going online like there's no tomorrow (not to mention that entire industries are moving into each other's territories), showing this collection of Nokia ads may be more persuasive than a thousand words! To view the update, visit our ONLINE OXYGEN image resource gallery. Oh, and while you're at it: check out the Palm Zire ad (detail below), which conveys the same message. It's all converging. Time to wipe the dust off that old copy of Prahalad and Hamel's 'Competing for the Future!'

More convergence below: a scene from the Japanese MTV Music Video awards in Saitama, with fans sticking up their camera-phones to capture their idols: as much a 'sign of the times' as it will get this year! (Photo: AP).



Our favorite topic when it comes to ONLINE OXYGEN: WiFi! To the right is a telling picture that indicates the rapid spread of WiFi hotspots in NYC: it's now harder to find an offline spot in Manhattan (below 96th Street, that is), than it is to find one that will breathe ONLINE OXYGEN into your laptop. Even more mind-boggling: this graphic depicts the situation as it was ONE YEAR ago. See our image resource page for the entire image.

But the US isn't the only nation stealing the spotlight in this wireless day and age. From next month on, you will be able to surf, download and chat on board the TGV (France's high speed train) between Paris and Bordeaux. A free, on-board hotspot will allow you to send and receive email while sipping a glass of... ONLINE OXYGEN à la Française!

Members of entire generations have never held, let alone listened to, a vinyl record. Now, get ready to witness the disappearance of the music CD, too. With iTunes launching a Windows version in the US, and everyone from BestBuy to MTV to a resurrected Naspter trying to muscle their way into legal music downloads, the battlefield has become completely digital, even though some record companies and CD retail stores still reject a DIGITAL EMBRACE. Rather amusingly, they seem to believe that their current scheme to (finally) lower prices for CDs will convince ONLINE OXYGEN craving tweens and teens to turn off their PCs and head back to the store. Good luck! In the mean time, may we predict that the final kiss of death will be delivered by Apple iTunes' deals with AOL and Pepsi?
The latter is looking to give away 100,000,000 million digital songs for, well, a song. Yes, that's 8 zeroes. The campaign will debut during the Super Bowl on 1 February 2004 and will run for two months. Out of 300,000 million yellow-capped Pepsi bottles, one in three will offer a free song from the iTunes Music Store. There are now even rumours that McDonald's is contemplating a similar stunt, though this one would entail 1 BILLION songs. Enough to finally get you in the mood for a DIGITAL EMBRACE?

Joining the game of musical chairs is Philips, the Dutch electronics giant, who has announced the world's first Wireless Broadband Internet Hi-Fi System: a sound system that uses WiFi to connect consumers' hard disks -- and no doubt thousands of MP3 files -- to the Philips MC-i250 audio player (part of the Streamium product line).


It will also connect with multiple online music services, to be controlled and customized via www.myphilips.com. Could be the beginning of the 'connected house' without tripping over Jetsons-style robots or having to stop 'intelligent' fridges from ordering dozens of cartons of milk. Instead of coming up with yet another proprietary (read: soon-to-be-extinct) standard, Philips finally concentrates on riding the waves of WiFi and the insatiable lust for digital entertainment. Well done.

And just to make sure you're not the last person on earth not to have THE new logo for 2003 and 2004 etched into your visual memory: here's another helping of the USD 300 million Intel Centrino Chip branding campaign, touting wireless life and business. It's literally everywhere; from perching on the roofs of NYC cabs to crowding the Letter to the Editor pages of BusinessWeek.


Enough ONLINE OXYGEN for now. For more, see our upcoming free report on the top 10 online business Mega Trends for 2004, due early December 2003. >> Email this trend to a friend.

IMAGE RESOURCE PAGE FOR ONLINE OXYGEN
www.trendwatching.com/resources/images/ONLINE_OXYGEN.html

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MARCH 2004
| Tracking a massive trend like ONLINE OXYGEN requires constant readjustment. Here are the latest sightings from a world that in only 7 years' time went from denouncing the Net as a 'hype' to embracing online access with such ferocity that now even the world's largest cruise ship, the brand new 1,132 foot-long, USD 800 million Queen Mary II, has wireless access points installed throughout the vessel. It's one giant floating hot spot!



The largest 'WiFi Office Tower'? The entire Sears Building in Chicago, all 110 floors of it, will soon be WiFi enabled.

Amtrak and AT&T will put wireless internet service in six of the railroad's busiest train stations along the Northeast Corridor, from Boston Route 128 Station to New York and Baltimore Penn Stations, serving ONLINE OXYGEN to more than one million weekday passengers, commuters and visitors.

Paris has announced that it wants to be the WiFi capital of the world, aiming to have 3000 hot spots by year end. This will include all of Accor Groupe's 250 Parisian hotels, from Sofitel to Formula 1, and 12 hot spots along RATP's bus route 38. All 400 metro stations are next. As we reported a while ago, Gare du Nord already has its Gare WiFi. C'est magnifique!


McDonald's has expanded its WiFi program to 400 restaurants in the US. Of all its WiFi users surveyed, 60% said they wouldn't have gone to McDonald's if it wasn't for the online access now being offered. McDonald's UK is following suit, installing WiFi in more than 560 restaurants throughout the UK, in cooperation with British Telecom.

More British ONLINE OXYGEN: British Airways just announced that it will have installed wireless internet connections in 80 of its main customer lounges around the world by the end of May 2004.



As wireless service was the most requested new service in surveys of departing guests, the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas has begun providing wireless internet connections in all of its 5,034 rooms (source: LVPress.com).

And truly going all out: hot spot pioneer T-Mobile wants to increase its number of hot spots in Europe from 700 to 4000 by year end, while growing from 4000 to 6000 hotspots in the US in the same period. Wow.



A trend in a trend: what happens if people have your website at their fingertips non-stop, whether they're out on the streets, or in their office, or in any room at home? Popular sports site ESPN.com is tailoring features to customers with WiFi, adding live chats with sports experts, and more video clips of big plays and tools to help fantasy football fans track their teams; this after focus groups said they were using WiFi to take their wireless laptops into the living room. Like most sports sites, ESPN.com was designed around users watching games on TV in the living room, then dashing to an office PC to check scores or stats. No more!

And cooking sites Allrecipes.com and Epicurious.com, initially designed for users who would print out recipes and then take these to the kitchen, now find that laptops increasingly take place next to the chopping block. In anticipation, recipes now fit on just one screen, and the number of how-to videos has been increased significantly. Food for thought?

Last but not least: Yahoo TV recently signed a partnership with Television Without Pity, a TV gossip site that features real-time chats about shows as they air (source: USA TODAY).


And for those of you who dig ONLINE OXYGEN statistics: BIGresearch's latest Media Usage Survey amongst 13,000 US men, found that from August 2002 to October 2003, television viewership dropped 8.8 percent for men 18-24 and 12.2 percent for men 25-34. During the same period of time, BIGresearch found internet usage among men 18-34 shot up about 7 percent and video game usage rose 5 percent. >> Email this trend to a friend.