IM Rules in Spain, Brazil

Marketers and businesspeople wanting to target consumer IM users outside the U.S. may want to focus more on Spain and Brazil rather than, say, Denmark or Italy. As expected, email still reigns supreme in the never-ending battle of Internet communications technologies.

A new report from Nielsen//NetRatings has found that instant messaging has less than 30% penetration in several countries, including France, Germany and Italy. Of the three countries Nielsen//NetRatings views as being “major markets” — Australia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands — IM was most widely used in the U.K., followed by Australia and the Netherlands (see chart).

This is the first time that Nielsen//NetRatings has measured the IM market in the selected countries, so no trends could be discerned, a company spokesperson said. Nielsen//NetRatings will continue to track IM stats in the future, though.

This particular Nielsen//NetRatings survey did not examine U.S. usage in IM.

For its Global Internet Trends Q1 2002 survey, Nielsen//NetRatings measured the population of Internet users 16 years and older who have used the Internet in the past 6 months.

Country Used IM Sent/Rec’d E-Mail
Spain 43% 82%
Brazil 42% 75%
U.K. 35% 90%
Sweden 32% 88%
Australia 30% 90%
Netherlands 29% 90%
Hong Kong 26% 84%
France 26% 80%
Switzerland 24% 89%
Germany 18% 83%
Italy 16% 79%
Denmark 13% 89%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

Chat-room participation was also measured, as well as audio/visual content viewing and Internet-radio listening. In the chat-room category Brazil came in first at 41%, and the U.K. was last at 16% of usage. People in the U.K. enjoyed looking at multimedia content the most, with 41% saying they accessed audio/visual content via the Net; the Swiss viewed it the least at 22%. And Brazilians jammed to Internet radio the most, with 48% saying they tuned in without going to a real radio. People in the Netherlands radio surfed the least, at 13%.

When it comes to overall international Internet communications, though, the old phrase “email is the killer app” still rings true. Ninety percent of adults in the three major markets of Australia, the U.K. and the Netherlands used email over the past six months. Users in ten out of the 12 countries logged into an email account at least 80% of the time. Net surfers in the two bottom countries on the list, Italy and Brazil, used email 79% and 75% of the time, respectively.

Globally, the number of people with access to the Internet via a home PC increased from 498.2 million people in the fourth quarter of 2001 to 531.3 million in 2002’s first quarter. North America is the biggest region, contributing 34% of the total global Internet population (182.8 million people), followed by Europe and the Middle East at 27% (141.6 million), Asia & the Pacific at 21% (110.0 million), and Latin America at 2% (13.4 million). The “rest of the world” came in at 16% of the world’s Net population (83.5 million).

Of the 12 countries covered in this report outside the U.S. and Japan, Germany (32.2 million), the U.K. (29 million) and Italy (21.1 million) have the largest number of people with Internet access via a home PC. With a combined 82 million people with home Internet access, these three countries account for about half (53%) of the total for all 12 countries. Since last quarter, the U.K. experienced the largest growth in people with home Internet access, with 4.2 million people and 1.5 million households gaining access to the Internet via a home PC.

Sweden, Denmark, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Australia appear to be more mature Internet markets, Nielsen//NetRatings noted.

Bob Woods is the managing editor of InstantMessagingPlanet.

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