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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK


Internet is 'under-hyped'

The Henley Centre says no-collar workers are the future

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The Internet has been "under-hyped" rather than over-hyped in the way it will impact all aspects of people's lives, according to research by The Henley Centre.

The consumer consultancy says, in research commissioned by Cisco Systems, that the Net looks set to cause as great an impact on society as the development of factory processing did in the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.

Cisco itself estimates that 60 million people, equivalent to the UK's population, now joins the Internet every six months. It also estimates that e-mail now outnumbers regular post by 10 to one.

Men like online shopping

The Henley Report comes to a number of conclusions on the impact of the Net on daily lives:

  • The rise of the no-collar worker - the Net brings more fluid employment structures, meaning people will move from job to job on a regular basis. They will have varied skills and few ties to employers.

  • Men are driving the next retail revolution - 13% already shop over the Web, compared to 2% of women. The general social observation that men do not like visiting shops is reinforced as the quicker, less overt and more anonymous online shopping is a male paradise. Only 2% of men and 6% of women now worry about fraud when buying online.

  • Changes in the brand we trust - consumers of the future are likely to have more faith in brands they have never seen on the High Street, such as Sky TV. In the UK, the BBC is well on the way to becoming the most trusted company on the Web, ahead of McDonalds and Coca Cola.

  • Clever kitchens and brainy bedrooms - widespread availability of intelligent appliances is only a couple of years away and the building of a prototype networked house is already underway.

"[The report] shows we are at the rapid innovation stage of a revolution - just before it takes off in earnest," said James Richardson, Cisco's European president, "The Internet is actually being under-hyped, rather than over-hyped."

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