Commentary

The Rise of the iClass

  • by , April 7, 2009

As the economic crisis looms over us, Americans are looking for cheap methods of entertainment. America’s greatest past-time, consumer spending, just isn’t cutting it anymore – how can you engage in America’s most popular activity if you’ve been laid off or all of your money is going to pay off a mortgage that is too expensive to begin with?

Prices at the mall have gone up (assuming there isn’t a going-out-of-business sale).

Forget about going to an amusement park.

Even the price of movie tickets is on the rise.

So where can the masses go for entertainment now that the economic world is crumbling around us? (How do you like the melodrama, by the way?)

Answer: the Internet!!

The Internet is a [fairly] cheap and easy form of entertainment. There are tons of free videos (courtesy of YouTube, Hulu, and the likes). All your friends are there already (thanks to MySpace and Facebook). Plus, there’s the not-so-new, but recently glamorized Twitter, that has taken America by storm – from “Good Morning America” to “Ellen,” everybody is talking about twitting and tweeting. Even Stephen Colbert has admitted to twa… Nevermind, I won’t go there.

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But cliché references to pseudo-current events aside, the point I’m trying to make here is that I think with people cutting back on entertainment spending (since that’s generally one of the first things to go), usage of the Internet (especially streaming video and social networking) will rise significantly because of the economic downturn.

I read a few months ago that people are increasingly viewing a high-speed Internet connection as more of a necessary utility (like water or electric) and less as a frivolous expenditure. So it serves to reason that use will increase over the coming months.

But this will, admittedly, be hard to measure since usage of the Internet has pretty much been increasing unabated since the mid-1990s.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in usage of Second Life, World of Warcraft, or any other of the massively multiplayer online games (although having to pay $15/month probably won’t help WoW in the near future).

But who knows? I just read that online ad spending is going to decrease by nearly 10% in 2009, which would suggest otherwise to what I just wrote. So I probably won’t be getting a job at an ad agency any time soon. We’ll just have to sit back and see what happens…

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