Swedes, Danes, and Dutch Lead European Usage

While many Americans are avid Internet surfers, a majority of Europeans (53.3 percent) do not even use a computer at all. The figure for non-computer users even reaches as high as 75.3 percent and 74.7 percent in Greece and Portugal, respectively, according to a Eurobarometer survey.

Data was compiled based on approximately 1,000 interviews that were conducted in each of the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, East Germany, West Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Great Britain, and Northern Ireland.

Overall, 22.5 percent of the respondents indicated that they use a computer every day, with Sweden (36.7 percent), Denmark (36.6 percent), and the Netherlands (32.2 percent) having the highest figures. Fourteen percent of those surveyed use the computer several times a week; 5.3 percent use it once per week; 2.2 percent use the computer one to three times a month; and 2.4 percent use it less often than that.

The highest proportion of Internet users that were found are the Swedes (66.5 percent), Danes (59.4 percent), the Dutch (53.8 percent), and the Finns (51.4 percent).

The portion of Europeans who actually use computers indicated that exchanging email with family, friends, or colleagues is the primary Internet-related activity at 57.8 percent. Other online activities included: searching for information on a specific product (41.5 percent); working (40.3 percent); searching for educational materials and documents (37 percent); searching for information on sport or leisure activities (33.2 percent); and making travel preparations (30.8 percent).

Nielsen//NetRatings found similar results regarding email in its Global Internet Trends, Q1 2002 report that covered Austria, Belgium/Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K., Australia, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, along with select measures for the U.S., Canada, and Japan.

Richard Goosey, chief of measurement science, Nielsen//NetRatings, explains, “The key to email’s popularity is two-fold: It’s a cost-effective way to communicate across great distances, and it doesn’t require the same high connection speeds as some of the other applications. In most countries in this report, a 56k modem or slower modem is the most popular tool to access the Internet. However, in Hong Kong, an astonishing 58 percent of those who responded and have Internet access use either a cable modem or high-speed telephone connection to access the Internet. Not surprisingly, their rates for using Internet radio and looking at audio-visual content were among the highest worldwide.”

Internet Activities Over the Past Six Months
Among Users 16+
Country Sent/
Received Email
Participated in Chat Room Used Instant Messaging Looked at Audio-Visual Content Used Radio via the Internet
Australia 90% 23% 30% 40% 20%
UK 90% 16% 35% 41% 21%
Netherlands 90% 21% 29% 30% 17%
Denmark 89% 20% 13% 27% 23%
Switzerland 89% 21% 24% 22% 13%
Sweden 88% 19% 32% 29% 25%
Hong Kong 84% 28% 26% 34% 38%
Germany 83% 25% 18% 24% 18%
Spain 82% 38% 43% 32% 23%
France 80% 27% 26% 27% 20%
Italy 79% 20% 16% 25% 19%
Brazil 75% 41% 42% 35% 40%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

The quarterly report’s coverage is deeper than the Eurobarometer survey, but there were parallels among the findings.

“Sweden, Denmark, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Australia appear to be more mature Internet markets,” Goosey said. “Of the countries covered in this report, these five are the clear leaders across key statistics, such as the percentage of people with access to the Internet (each has more than 55 percent), percentage that own/lease a home PC (all 60-plus percent), and high Internet connection rates (all 80-plus percent) for those who have a PC in their home.”

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