November 14, 2001

The dot-com meltdown and the Web

The dot-com meltdown and the Web

The dot-com problems and their impact on the Web

Some Americans’ Internet experiences are beginning to be affected by the dot-com meltdown, but the vast majority of them are making quick adjustments to get the Web content and services they like without paying extra money. Here are the key findings from a survey taken between August 13 and September 10 of 2,247 American adults (1,351 of them are Internet users):

  • 12% of Internet users – more than 13 million people – say a favorite Web site of theirs has gone out of business. But close to two-thirds of them (62%) have found other Web sites that provide the same information or service.
  • 17% of Internet users – about 19 million people – have been asked to pay for access to a Web site or content that used to be free. But half of them have found a free alternative. Just 12% of them pay for the service and the rest just decide to stop getting that content or service from an online source.

Are dot-com troubles a good thing or a bad thing for the online environment? 

Many Americans still believe that the dot-com shakeout has basically been a benefit to the online world, and they still believe that greedy investors were a major factor in the collapse of many firms. Still, a growing number of Americans fear that the problems in the Internet’s commercial sector are a significant problem for the U.S. economy. It is important to point out that this survey took place before the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., thus it does not measure people’s views in the context of those world-changing events.

In all, two-thirds of Americans have heard about the problems in the dot-com world. Of them

  • 48% believe that having some Internet companies close is a good thing because there were too many Web sites that had too little to offer. This is down from 57% who believed that when we asked the same question in February.
  • 71% believe a major cause of the dot-com woes is that investors were eager to make a lot of money and took at lot of risks.
  • 34% believe that the financial problems of the dot-coms will have a major impact on the economy. That is up from the 26% who believed that when we asked the question in February.

The impact of Internet firms’ problems takes a greater personal toll

  • 12% of Americans say they or members of their families have lost money investing in Internet companies, up from 7% in February.
  • 14% of Americans say they know someone laid off by an Internet company or a firm that provides services related to the Internet, up from 9% in February.