Internet access in emerging markets to double by 2015

Internet companies need to build presences in these markets now, consultants say

The number of people with Internet access in Brazil, Russia, China, India and Indonesia will double by 2015, management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group said in a report released Wednesday.

These five countries -- which the consulting firm dubbed BRICI -- account for 45 percent of the world's population and 15 percent of global GDP (gross domestic product), BCG said, noting they are currently home to 610 million Internet users. That number is set to double to 1.2 billion by 2015, it said, predicting the number of users will increase at compound annual growth rates of 9 percent to 20 percent.

In these countries, home computers aren't the most important means of getting online, unlike in the U.S. and other countries where PCs are used to connect to the Internet. "Personal computers are much less prevalent than mobile devices in the BRICI countries -- and play nowhere near the role in catalyzing digital consumption that mobile devices and Internet cafes do," the report said.

As the costs of mobile Internet access comes down and operators expand the reach of their networks, the number of people accessing the Internet in these countries will grow, it said.

While Internet usage will grow in all five BRICI countries, China will remain the country with the highest Internet usage, BCG said. Chinese Internet users now spend an average of 2.7 hours online each day, and that is expected to increase to 3.1 hours per day by 2015, it said.

By comparison, Russian Internet users spend 1.7 hours online every day, on average. Users in India, Brazil and Indonesia spend an average of 0.5 hours, 0.9 hours and 1.1 hours online, respectively.

The high projected growth rate for Internet access and digital content means companies that operate in this space should make plans to enter these markets, BCG said.

"As digital consumption moves into the mainstream of BRICI society over the next few years, the online habits of the current generation of digital consumers will form the digital-market ecosystems that will be in place for generations to come," the report said.

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