A survey released by Intel [INTC] on Monday says that more people would be willing to give up sex than be without Internet access. It’s interesting, but it’s just not true.
News outlets from CNN to The Australian have been reporting the results as they indicate a bellwether of change in our attitudes towards technology. “Many Would Take Internet Over Sex,” CNN announces blithely. But look at the phraseology of the survey, and you’ll see that we haven’t become Web-addled automatons. In fact, all you’ll learn is that Intel should stick to making microprocessors and keep its silicon nose out of sociology.
Here’s what really happened when Harris Interactive questioned 2,119 respondents. To the question: Would you rather give up sex for two weeks, or give up Internet access for the same period? Forty-six percent of women said they’d rather forgo sex; 30% of men said the same. Among younger respondents aged 18-34, the numbers were even higher: 49% percent of women and 39% of men.
Sixty-five percent said they’d prefer Internet access over other modern luxuries like cable TV, dining out, clothes shopping, or a gym membership for the same two weeks.
Of course they did. Go without sex, shopping, or TV for two weeks, and you’d probably just become a more productive human being. Forgo Internet and email access for two weeks, and you’d probably get fired, miss a credit card payment, piss off friends, and lose touch with current events. Did I mention you’d probably get fired?
If it’s one thing that the survey unintentionally teaches us, it’s that the Web isn’t a medium of entertainment anymore, but a tool that has all but replaced the telephone with its primacy in the business world.
It’s not just that many of our businesses rely on the Internet; it’s also that an increasing number of businesses sell a product or service that is Internet-based. Fortunately, another survey released this week — this one more scientific — suggests that incipient Web businesses might fare better than expected in 2009.
Advisory firm KPMG surveyed 270 venture capitalists and entrepreneurs recently, asking them what kind of revenues they expected in the coming year. Despite declining investment levels and deal volume, 73% said they expected their firms’ revenues to stay the same or increase in 2009. Fifty-two percent expected an increase, and 37% predicted revenue growth over 10%.
What will decline, the respondents said, is exit opportunities for venture funds. The vast majority of venture capital partners surveyed said that the market for IPOs won’t recover from the current economic slump for at least a year. But because most of them also foresee valuations of their firms dropping, the respondents also said there would be an uptick in mergers and acquisitions in 2009, as venture funds see acquisitions as opportunities for exit.
Quick consolidation and long incubation periods could be the makings of some very powerful Internet companies once the economy recovers in 18-24 months. Think of it as an Internet baby boom — maybe Intel should conduct a survey on that topic.