WASHINGTON — On-line computer services enjoyed another boom in popularity last year, with the number of subscribers jumping nearly 40% from 1993 as competition pushed down prices, a new survey said Friday.
Many of the 1.7 million new subscribers in 1994 signed up during the last three months of the year, boosting the total number of users to more than 6.3 million, according to the Washington-based Information and Interactive Services Report.
The newsletter attributed much of the growth to America Online Inc.'s addition of 500,000 customers since October, bringing its total to more than 1.5 million.
The robust growth is expected to continue, the newsletter predicted, partly because of new rivals and partly because of an increase in the number of personal computers coming packaged with at least one service as part of their software offerings.
Each household typically spends about $20 to $30 a month using on-line services, despite the nearly universal basic monthly fee of about $10, the survey said.
The number of H&R Block Inc.'s CompuServe subscribers in 1994 rose 9% to 2.45 million. Prodigy, a joint venture of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and International Business Machines Corp., has 1.2 million subscribers, the survey said.
America OnLine, CompuServe and Prodigy are the biggest of the 55 services surveyed and account for about 80% of total subscribers. The survey does not factor in independent providers of links to the Internet, the huge computer network that can be accessed through on-line services.
Delphi and General Electric Co.'s GEnie, which ranked fourth and fifth in 1994, have been "marking time--actually, losing customers--as they redesign their core services," the newsletter reported.
Apple Computer Inc.'s eWorld service is still being tested and is available only to a limited number of Macintosh owners, the survey noted. Microsoft Corp. also plans to enter the on-line market this year, offering a service that provides full Internet access.