The number of Internet users in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, will reach 40 million by the end of this year, 55.7% more than the 25.7 million users at the beginning of 2000, according to figures released by market research firm International Data (IDC).
Opportunities for vendors of online services are increasing rapidly as the region's users are expected to spend $US7.3 billion on electronic commerce purchases this year, IDC said. But vendors will need to be aware of the shift in Internet usage patterns towards currently less-developed economies, the analyst firm said in its latest Internet Commerce Market Model report.
Over the next five years, the Internet user base in Asia-Pacific will grow at an annual rate of 40.6%, bringing the number of Net users to 141 million by 2004. The value of e-commerce transactions will grow at an annual rate of 128% over the same period, IDC estimated.
Reasons for the rapid Net growth include falling Internet access tariffs, the emergence of the free ISP (Internet service provider) trend in the region and an increasing interest in Internet-related initiatives among the successful ‘old-economy’ companies in the region, according to Richard Jacobson, senior Internet analyst at IDC Asia/Pacific.
For the first time, China is the country with the most Internet users, having overtaken Australia in the first half of the year, IDC said. China now has 9 million users, representing 22.5% of the total number of Internet users in the region, followed by Australia with 7.4 million (18.5%) and Korea with 7 million (17.5%).
But the ratios will shift dramatically in favor of currently less-developed countries by 2004, according to IDC.
By 2004, China will lead with 51.2 million users (36.3%), followed by India at 22.4 million (15.9%) and Korea at 21.3 million (15.1%). At that time, Australia's Internet user base will have risen to 11.7 million, representing 8.3% of the expanded market. (See table below.)
This shift makes it important that companies understand that Asia-Pacific is not a homogenous region, and each country market is unique and needs to be addressed differently, according to IDC. For example, it is necessary to provide local-language Web sites in many countries in the region, IDC said.
IDC is owned by IDG News Service parent International Data Group Inc.
IDC Asia-Pacific, in Singapore, can be reached at +65-226-0330, or via the Web at http://www.idc.com.sg/.
Table: Internet Users by Market Share 2000, 2004.
|Country||Market Share 2000||Market Share 2004|
(Source: IDC’s Internet Commerce Market Model Version 6.3, June 2000.)