The number of people worldwide with Internet access through a home personal computer rose marginally to 585 million in the first quarter of 2003 from 580 million in fourth-quarter 2002, a new study found.
Both the number of households and number of people with access to the Internet through a home PC grew 12 percent first-quarter 2003 versus first-quarter 2002, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.
The United States, as a survey region, accounted for the largest Internet population, at 30 percent. Select European markets followed with 24 percent, Hong Kong at 13 percent and Brazil at 2 percent.
Beyond the United States, the Internet is playing an increasingly important role in Australia, Britain, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden — markets surveyed for this research.
In Germany, 37.1 million people have Internet access via a home PC. The numbers for Britain and Italy, respectively, are 29 million and 24.1 million. These three countries account for 54 percent of the online audience in the surveyed European markets.
Nielsen//NetRatings found Sweden, Hong Kong, Australia and the Netherlands to be more mature markets in their Internet use. At more than 57 percent each, they lead in terms of the percentage of people with Internet access through a home PC.
These four markets also lead in terms of the percentage who own or lease a home PC — more than 64 percent. And, at 80 percent-plus, they have high Internet connection rates for those with a PC in their home.
Most markets surveyed are also steadily adopting broadband technology. Barring Germany and Italy, all the surveyed markets have shown a rise in the percentage of households with broadband access since the first quarter of 2002.
Sweden and Brazil had the largest percentage increase in broadband connections since last year, at 16 percent. Hong Kong leads the surveyed markets with a higher percentage of broadband connections vs. low-speed connections: 65 percent vs. 16 percent.
The study noted that Brazil had tremendous potential for Internet growth. An additional 21 percent of the telephone household population intends to acquire Internet access in the next 12 months.