The lazy days of summer on the Internet seem to be a boon for Google and Yahoo, but not Microsoft.
The latest figures from research firm Nielsen Online show a slight lift to Google's audience from June to July, up by about 1 million visitors to an estimated 129 million, the largest population for a parent company of Web sites in the United States.
Yahoo, the third most popular U.S. group of sites, enjoyed a boost of about 4 million visitors over that time to almost 118 million visitors. In contrast, Microsoft's audience fell by roughly 700,000 visitors to 122 million from June to July, according to Nielsen's statistics, which were released Tuesday.
Microsoft also lost out to Google over the year. In July 2007, Microsoft was the top parent company on the Web, with about 121 million visitors; and Google followed, with an estimated 117 million visitors. This summer, the roles are reversed.
To be sure, Google still trails far behind rivals, with respect to the coveted time people spend with a Web site. There, Yahoo wins. In July, people spent an average of 3 hours and 31 minutes on Yahoo. That compares to almost 2 hours with Google; 2 hours and 16 minutes on Microsoft's network; and 3 hours and 28 minutes on Time Warner's sites, including AOL.
Google's time numbers are climbing, no doubt because of new products like wiki-like Knol. In July 2007, people spent an average of 1 hour and 34 minutes with Google, compared with almost 2 hours this summer.
Also of note, Apple made the list of the top 10 most popular companies online in July at the expense of The New York Times, which appeared on the list in the same period a year ago. Thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and other products, an estimated 51 million people spent an average of 1 hour and 12 minutes on Apple's sites in July.