In a not-so-surprising twist, the Internet "universe" exploded in 1999, increasing from 97 million U.S.-based users in February to 119 million in December, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
The Internet measurement service defines the Internet universe as users who had access from their homes but didn't necessarily go online.
As part of this growth, the gender gap leveled out on the Internet, Nielsen/NetRatings said. Men accounted for a 53% audience share in February, while women had 47%, the study said. But by December, men and women users were evenly split.
However, men spent more time online in December, averaging two hours and 12 minutes per month more on the Net than women, the study said. The figure for February was one hour and 35 minutes more for male surfers.
Other findings of the 1999 year in review included the following:
Users are going to fewer sites but viewing more pages per site. The average user visited 15 different sites in February, but that decreased to nine by December.
Pages viewed per online session jumped 68% from February to December, increasing from 19 to 32. The research firm attributes the growth to larger sites broadening and boosting their information.
The Internet wasn't part of the last-minute holiday rush due to several concerns, probably including worries that gifts might not be delivered in time.
The company expects Net retailers to promote Web stores as a good alternative for procrastinators during the 2000 holiday season.
Survey results come from a panel of more than 38,000 people, the company said.