Britons Increase Use of Interactive Technologies

The British have demonstrated a voracious appetite for interactive technologies such as the Internet, email and instant messaging, according to a report by MORI and Egg.

The “Embracing Technology” report found that 59 percent of the British adult population (about 27 million people) now use interactive technologies for personal use. This is up from 54 percent in October of 2001. Approximately 20 million British adults (45 percent) now use the Internet for personal use, up from 42 percent in October 2001. Another 10 percent plan to go online in the next two years.

As a financial services firm, Egg was particularly interested in how British adults use the Internet to help with their finances. The report found that approximately 6.6 million Britons now bank online, up from 5.5 million in October of 2001. Nearly one-third of all British adults (31 percent) said they would be interested in being able to make payments to individuals or pay bills to businesses using email, as opposed to sending checks. This figure grew to 54 percent among email users. More than one-third of all adults (37 percent) said they would be interested in account aggregation facilities in the next two years. Half of all Internet users (around 10 million adults) said they have either arranged or serviced a financial product over the internet.

“The advent of online banking did away with queuing at branches and allowed people to service their finances any time of the day or night,” said Patrick Muir, marketing director for Egg UK. “This report reveals consumers expect the Internet to continue to improve their lives even further, with the introduction of account aggregation services that allow them to manage their whole financial lives online.”

The report also examined the adoption of instant messaging on the Internet and found that about 6 million people, or 14 percent of adults in Britain, claim to use the technology. Instant messaging is used by 52 percent of experienced Internet users (online for five years or more) and 31 percent of all Internet users.

There are still regional differences in Britain when it comes to technology adoption. For example, 56 percent of those living in the southeast (excluding London), and 50 percent of Londoners, use the Internet – compared to only 23 percent in Wales. E-mail usage has a similar pattern. While 16 percent of all British adults claim to use laptop PCs, this rises to one-quarter among Londoners, and falls to just 5 percent in Wales.

A study of the U.K. media market by Screen Digest and ABN Amro found that British consumers spend an average of 2.6 hours per week online and using mobile telephones. The study expects this figure to rise as penetration of these technologies increases. Mobile usage is forecast to increase to two hours per week by 2010 helped by cheaper tariffs and new services, although it remains the most expensive medium per minute. Online revenues are set to grow to £3 billion by 2010 and time spent online should increase to 4.3 hours per week.

The Screen Digest study found that, overall, British consumers are spending more time and money on media than ever before. It predicts the total U.K. media market could be worth £84.26 billion by the end of the decade. Most of the growth will come from electronic media, and it will come at the expense of printed media.

The total U.K. media market was worth £7 billion in 1985, of which 48 percent was spent on print media, including newspapers, books and magazines. Twenty-three percent was spent on electronic hardware and 18 percent on music, film and software. By 2010, the Screen Digest study expects these ratios to reverse, with just 15.8 percent of all consumer spending on media dedicated to print; 19.3 percent to electronic hardware; 14 percent on music, film and leisure software, while subscription media (e.g., mobile, Internet and pay TV) will garner 50.9 percent of all media spending, compared to 11 percent in 1985.

The average Briton spends 53 hours per week consuming media, the study found, making it by far the largest use of leisure time. Broadcast media accounts for 87 percent of all media time. Usage of print media is particularly low, with the average person spending less than half an hour each week reading books, even less time reading magazines and about half an hour reading newspapers. By contrast, 1.5 hours per week are spent playing leisure software, which after TV (25.1 hours) and radio (21.3 hours) has become the media where Britons spend the most time.

By 2010, books, magazines and newspapers combined will account for just 72 minutes per week, while leisure software will increase to 142 minutes per week, according to the study. The time spent on television and radio will remain fairly static. But by 2010, Britons could spend 8.5 hours per week on either mobile telephony, online or using leisure software.

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