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This article was published on May 19, 2008

Are we getting ahead of ourselves?

Are we getting ahead of ourselves?
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

shackAccording to research firm Parks Associates roughly one-fifth of all U.S. households are disconnected from the Internet and have never used e-mail. Apparently they called 20 million households and asked them if they had Internet Access. (Had they gone door to door that number would have been way higher as I can imagine that a high percentage of people that don’t have a phone in their houses also don’t have Internet.)

John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates is quoted:

“Nearly one out of three household heads has never used a computer to create a document. These data underscore the significant digital divide between the connected majority and the homes in the unconnected minority that rarely, if ever, use a computer. Many people just don’t see a reason to use computers and do not associate technology with the needs and demands of their daily lives”

There is hope though as 7 percent of the 20 million disconnected homes plan to get connected within the next 12 months.

Werner Vogels
Werner Vogels at The Next Web Conference 2008

Last Friday we had dinner with Werner Vogels, CTO Amazon, who told us how dangerous it is to ignore users who still use 800×600. One guest said “It is just too much work to design your website in such a way that it works on all resolutions. You should just ignore the older browsers and systems and make sure everything works for 98% of your users”.

Vogels replied that Amazon currently has over 80 million members, that lots of those come to the service because of its low pricing. Many Amazon customers are very price aware and that Amazon is also attractive for customers with lower incomes. If he would ignore even a few percent of his customers that would come down to millions of disappointed users.

When you are surrounded by geeks and early adopters it is easy to forget that not everybody own the latest MacBook Pro, a speedy broadband connection and a 23 inch monitor. We are very focused on what the Next Web will look like and are always looking ahead. Just remember that sometimes it pays to look back a bit too…