Canadian Net Demographics Shifting Fast

[Toronto, CANADA] While early adopters have dominated the Canadian Internet scene until now, a new influx of mainstream consumers are about to change the rules of the game.

So say David Ellis, president of Omnia Communications, and Duncan McKie, president of POLLARA, in A View from the Living Room: the Broadband Internet as a Mass Market.

The new report is based on extensive research combining demographic data about onliners with indepth interviews of company executives and five-year penetration forecasts.

The report is supported by analysis based on the authors’ wide experience working with clients in all areas of conventional and new media.

Results of the research include a breakdown of onliners into four major segments, and argues that the current boom in the Internet population is going to create as many headaches as opportunities for service and content providers.

“While service providers have previously targeted what we call the ‘Savvies’ and ‘Trendies’ — the two technology-savvy groups — it’s the ‘Newbies’ and ‘Mainstreamers’ that will boost the demand for user-friendly broadband applications centred in the household,” said POLLARA’s McKie.

Other key findings include:

  • Canada is way ahead of the U.S. in the deployment and adoption of next-generation broadband services. By the end of this year nearly 17% of Canadian online homes will have a broadband connection compared to 8.6% in the U.S.
  • 80% of North American households will be online by 2005 with the holdouts finding themselves hooked up to various IP-based platforms anyway, even for basic services like TV and telephone.
  • The number of households using a broadband connection to the Internet will overtake the number of homes using a plain-old dial-up connection by 2005.
  • Ironically, the very success of the cable industry has helped raise awareness of and demand for DSL, the telco high-speed technology.
  • Just as women are getting on the Internet bigtime, their male counterparts are now embracing broadband technologies nearly twice as quickly.

“Contrary to the myth of how the Digital Divide may be closing, the newest onliners are not under-privileged and under-educated, but middle-class consumers with disposable income,” said Omnia’s Ellis.

“The Newbies and Mainstreamers, who now form almost two-thirds of Canada’s adult online population, are the least comfortable with digital technologies of all kinds. They’ll need a whole new level of user-friendliness and customer care from online service and content providers”.

Omnia Communications is a new media research and consulting firm tracking consumer behavior, technology developments, business strategies, and regulatory affairs for high-tech, media, and communications firms.

POLLARA is Canada’s largest domestically-owned public opinion and market research firm, with offices nation-wide.

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