The Internet apparently is becoming more like television, where people go directly to their favorite stations rather than looking around randomly for entertainment.
According to a new study, the majority of Web users worldwide use direct navigation and bookmarks, rather than search engines or links, to find sites.
The study by the StatMarket division of WebSideStory, a company that bills itself as a provider of e-business intelligence, said as of Feb. 6, 51.67 percent of Internet users arrived at sites via bookmarks or typing the name in their browser, compared to just over 46 percent a year ago.
In the early days of the Internet, the study notes, search engines and Web links moved people from site to site, which in turn led to the use of the term "surfing" to describe that movement.
"This trend indicates that branding is indeed taking hold on the Web," Geoff Johnston, vice president of product marketing for StatMarket said in a press release. "More and more, Internet users seem to know exactly where they want to go."
In the United States, the latest figures show 58 percent of Web users visited sites by bookmarks or direct navigation, compared to 50 percent last year.
The numbers are even higher in other countries. In Germany, use of direct navigation and bookmarks is up from 54 percent in 2001 to 63 percent this year. Japanese Web users hardly do any online surfing – they use direct navigation and bookmarks 71 percent of the time, up from 60 percent last year.