Despite popular conceptions, Web surfers in the US and Western Europe are not necessarily the most advanced users, especially when it comes to ecommerce, according to IDC.
The market research firm's latest study, which looked at global Internet usage, found that while Americans were the most likely to make online purchases from home, with 72 per cent of respondents saying they had done so, some 63 per cent of Puerto Ricans also claimed to be cybershoppers, falling only slightly behind the Swiss at 64 per cent. Some 24 per cent of Japanese and 49 per cent of Peruvians said they made purchases for the office from their home PCs, while 18 per cent of Swedes and 45 per cent of Koreans admitted they bought personal items over the Internet from work.
Although the most popular items to be bought online were books, magazines and music, some 50 per cent of French people purchased travel services on the Web, while just over 50 per cent of Indians bought gifts.
But the American, Chinese and Germans were most patriotic about buying goods made in their own country. Almost 100 per cent of Americans and just over 75 per cent of those Chinese and Germans surveyed said they spent their money on local products.
The thorny issue of Web security also threw up some surprising results, however. While more than 40 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong said security concerns had turned them off making purchases over the Web, almost half of all Swedes questioned said they would increase their online buying habits.
And although the average number of devices that people use to access the Web at home is globally about 1.5, the distribution of multiple device households is not evenly spread. For example, 26 per cent of Japanese users have more than three devices compared with 13 per cent in the US and seven per cent in the UK.
But only seven per cent of Japanese schoolchildren said they accessed the Internet from school compared to 32 per cent in Mexico and 29 per cent in Korea.
While 56K modems are the most popular way of accessing the Internet on a global basis, western Europe was ahead in terms of high speed access, with Germany being the heaviest user of ISDN.
IDC polled 29,000 users across 100 countries and also found that Internet access fees varied hugely. Sweden boasted one of the lowest rates at $18 per month, while Argentinian users paid $78 per month, Germany and Japan shelled out $40 per month and Americans and Canadians paid about $23.
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