The United States certainly is one of the technically most advanced countries in the world. Many technological achievments took their start in the USA. This is especially true for the online world. And also applies to the invention of Online Annual Reports. Just recently I found the 1995 Online Annual Report of a Dow Component still online: http://twitpic.com/1wxpxg
It would be wrong to say there hasn’t been any improvement in online reporting since then. But the interesting issue is the format Home Depot’s archive is offering their Annual Reports in http://bit.ly/ajmnO8. Starting in 1995 four years Home Depot was converting their Annual Report into HTML. After that they just offer PDFs of their print version until recently! Also interesting: in those 4 years back in the 90s with an HTML version available, no PDF is offered. Is a good online report all you need for reference?
Overall I think Home Depots archive pretty much back up what we see in our research:
Online Annual Reporting of Dow Jones 30 companies since 2003
Being one of the early adopters of HTML for annual reporting, companies listed in the Dow 30 lost track with what media is best to use online. We saw years where image based picture shows (JPG), PDF and HTML reports where taking about the same portion of the cake. Now the tide seems has turned in favour of HTML conversions of financial documents. Although the USA still lacks behind other markets like the UK or Germany you might think: better late than never. But there is an important downer of this developement:
It seems this victory entirely belongs to the arrival of hybrid HTML reports. These Online Annual Reports incorporate parts of the information (mainly Notes section) just in PDF format. It seems that US companies realise that HTML is the way to communicate online, but still don’t understand that it is about reporting not just marketing!
For a good Online Annual Report example in the Dow Jones have a look what Intel offers: http://www.intc.com/intelAR2009/index.html