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12 November 2004

A new "evolutionary" post format

The next post starts a thread of monographs dedicated to evolving lifestyles as communication technology innovations become an integral part of the personal, domestic and professional spheres. Each monograph offers a synthetic view of the role that communication technologies play within each of the social spheres. 

Monographs will be updated on a regular basis and gradually extended both in depth, to achieve a finer grained understanding of emerging usages, and in breath, to cover a wider range of people, cultures and technologies. Socio-technical innovation, that is innovation emerging from the multiple interactions and couplings between social and technological trasnformations, is a historic process and as such needs to be captured in its unfolding. The posts' regular pace is meant to serve this purpose.

What is kept fixed over time is the focus on three, somehow artificial, social spheres: the personal, the domestic, the professional. What changes are adoption and usage patterns, under the joint action of institutions, markets, cultural representations, attitudes and needs, technological opportunities, and the multiple interactions between these different dimensions.

The first thread Inhabiting the networked home covers socio-technical innovation in the domestic sphere.

09 November 2004

Changing online consumer behaviours

During Q2 2003, DoubleClick started to aggregate data collected and processed using its SiteAdvanceSM web analytics solution that is implemented in a large number of e-commerce sites. From this data, every quarter Doubleclick publishes an E-Commerce Site Trend report. The Q3 2004 report, which has been recently published, highlights some very interesting behavioural changes from the previous year.

Flipping through
Compared to last year, visitors' sessions on commerce sites are half a minute shorter. They now last on average 4.4 minutes, versus 4.9 minutes in Q3 2003. Visitors spend on average 14 seconds less on each page they visit. It is now 29 seconds versus 43 seconds a year ago. The increased speed means that, on average, in each session, they look at almost three more pages: 10.3 pages versus 7.7.

Finding a product doesn't mean buying it
The percentage of e-commerce site visitors who add products to their carts, but then abandon them, has increased from 53% to 57%. But, once they start the checkout process, they are more likely to complete the purchase (63%) compared to a year earlier (59%).

On-site searches more effective
There is an increase in the frequency and size of sales coming through the commerce site search function. They were 6.6% of all sales a year ago, and are now 9.3%, with higher conversion rate (2.1% vs. 1.5%) and greater value (126$ vs. 100$).

Where: Global
When: Q3 2004

How do wireless data users access corporate computers and networks?

A recent report from InStat/MDR titled Remote access to Corporate Networks growing sheds some light on wireless data usage.

Conceding that wireless access is still rare, it appears that laptops and notebooks are the primary wireless access devices. The use of these devices goes with higher frequency of access and data transfer patterns. Thus, it is users of laptops and notebooks who upload and download the most data wirelessly. Access through VPN is used by about half of the respondents and not exclusively. Finally, among a list of potential VoIP applications, respondents are most interested by the possibility of making voice calls from their notebook computers. 

A word on method: In-Stat/MDR surveyed about 500 wireless data users and planned users, from its Technology Adoption Panel.

Where: US
When: 2004

08 November 2004

Communication technologies in the Arab World

Thanks to a recent post by emarketer titled The Mobile Middle East, I learnt about the Arab Advisors Group, a private market research and analysis company based in Amman, Jordan. Since 2001, the Arab Advisors Group studies the communications, media and technology markets in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, as a representative sample of the larger Arab World's media and telecom markets that it estimates at over 300M people in 22 countries; 41 mobile operators; 23 fixed operators; 36 datacomm operators and close to 300 ISPs.

I spent some time reading the summaries of recent reports looking for insights into how communication technologies are used in these countries.

Levels of connectivity
In terms of adoption and usage, the region appears to be far from homogeneous. The Arab Advisors Group calculates the Total Country Connectivity Measure as 1) households with fixed lines + 2) households with GSM subscriptions + 3) households with Internet users / total number of households. The Gulf countries, that is Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, emerge as being the most connected, whereas the Mediterranean countries, that is Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Algeria and Morocco, are the least connected (April, 2004).

Offer and cost for ADSL conenction
The ADSL market is also very inhomogeneous. In the countries that have ADSL services - there are no ADSL services in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Palestine - the cost of a home ADSL connection varies from 24$/month in Egypt to 135$/month in Syria. Jawad Abbassi, head of the Arab Advisors Group comments: "That Egypt is the star in the Arab World in having the lowest ADSL cost is no surprise. The major ISP in the country are allowed to negotiate their own international bandwidth agreements and not to be tied to getting the bandwidth from the incumbent fixed operator. Moreover, these ISPs are allowed to collocate at Telecom Egypt's exchanges and use Telecom Egypt unbundled copper wires at reasonable rates". Looking at cost not in absolute, but relative terms, as a percentage of GDP per capita, the least affordable ADSL service is in Sudan, followed by Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and the most affordable is in Qatar. The cost of ADSL in Egypt is thus comparable in real terms to Interational rates, less dear than the other Arab countries, but still very expensive for Egyptians (September, 2004).

Internet access in Algeria
One report focuses on Algeria's ISP market and Internet adoption. After opening the ISP market in 1998, in the spring 2004, Algeria had 30 operational ISPs out of 91 authorized operators. Internet users were about 420.000 at the end of 2003, equivalent to a 1.31% penetration rate. The analyst Serene Zawaydeh writes "French is the main language used in Algerian websites. Most websites lack rich content and lack sophistication. Only few banks have online presence and there are still no Internet banking services in Algeria." (March, 2004)

Mobile communications in Saudi Arabia
Another report looks at Saudi Arabia's mobile telecom market and usages with a survey of 202 GSM-customer households (141 Saudis, and 61 non-Saudis) in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Dhahran. We learn that practically all users (95%) have Arabic language handsets, use SMS (90%), while very few access the mobile Internet (less than 1.5%). Almost one out of two Mobile phone customers (42%) buys second-hand handsets. Handsets are replaced within less than a year. Familiarity with handsets features appears to be very limited (June, 2004). Overall, user-generated SMS account for most of mobile operators' data revenues, i.e. between 4 and 8% of total revenue.

Overall Internet audience and online advertising

Looking at Online advertising spending in the region, the Arab Advisors Group finds evaluates it to be between 8 and 10 M $, and very small compared to the 250 M $ spent on Satellite TV advertising. Two factors contribute to this gap: the satellite audience is much larger than the Internet audience, and it is also very largely a male audience (81%). It occurs that Satellite TV ads mostly target the female audience, which represents only 19% of the already small Internet audience.

Where: Arab World
When: 2004






Mid-2004 worldwide adoption of mobile telecom services

The numbers add up with GSM and WCDMA presents a synthetic worldwide view of mobile telecom services subscribers and analyses the case of GSM penetration in different geographical areas.




At the beginning of the year, there were more than 1 billion GSM subscribers. In June, this number had grown of another 11%.

The majority of GSM subscribers is still in Europe (500M) with Eastern Europe significantly contributing to the growth. There are more than 50M subscribers in Russia.

GSM users concentrate in China where there were 264M end of June, whereas in India, there were 30M GSM subscribers.

In the North, the number of GSM subscribers was 40.3M, of whom 37M were in the USA. In the Centre and South, there were 36M subscribers, of whom 11.7M are in Brazil.

The article indicates that a significant part of the mobile communication subscribers base growth is due to GSM and the new WCDMA standards.

Where: worldwide (except Africa)
When: June 2004


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