Web users in BRICI countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia – will almost double in the next five years, as PC and smartphone penetration grows, analysts say.
The number of subscribers accessing the web in the five markets will grow from 610 million in 2009 to 1.2 billion in 2015, Boston Consulting Group predicts, as PC penetration doubles from 440 million units currently.
Despite the growth in PC sales, BCG expects more BRICI consumers will access the web on their mobile phone than desktop computers, reasoning that the lower price of phones relative to PCs will make them more accessible.
Mobile penetration in the five countries already stands at 1.8 billion active subscriptions, it notes, four times higher than the combined figures for the US and Japan.
However, the firm predicts established service providers from the US and Europe will struggle to cash in on the digital revolution.
“The presence of strong local competitors in many of these markets means that the ‘incumbent’ digital market leaders in the US and Europe should not take success in the BRICI countries for granted,” BCG principal analyst Yvonne Zhou notes.
Consumer preferences in BRICI regions also differ from mature markets, the firm notes.
“The Internet is already having a fundamental impact on consumption patterns, and the patterns we’re seeing are significantly different,” says David Michael, head of BCG’s global practice.
Users in India are more likely to use e-mail than music services, Chinese users will err towards instant messaging, while social networking will grab the attention of users in Indonesia and Brazil, BCG said.
The firm’s findings are backed up by research from McKinsey, which found Chinese users tend to use the Web more for entertainment than Europeans, who do more work online, FT.com reports.