Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Whose net is it anyway?

Stumbled across this map in an interview with Cybergeographer Martin Dodge last week. Totally unsurprisingly, the infrastructure of the net is heavily concentrated in rich nations, but it's interesting to ponder how the balance of content is going to change in the course of the "wedia" phenomenon, and the general cataclysmic shifts (thanks for the pointer, JD Lasica) in media creation and consumption heralded by IP, and supported by broadband growth.

As a possible indicator of things to come, have a look at the recent breakdown of Skype users by country (top 20), which Niklas Zennstrom very kindly sent me this morning, and contrast with the previous rankings and percentage contributions (in parentheses) from October 2004 (keep in mind that absolute user numbers have at least trebled in many countries since the previous reading).

[1] United States - 9.13% (1, 10.3%)
[2] Poland - 7.87% (3, 8.78%)
[3] Taiwan - 7.80% (2, 9.24%)
[4] China - 6.75% (6, 5.89%)
[5] Germany - 6.06% (5, 6.18%)
[6] Brazil - 5.85% (4, 7.24%)
[7] France - 5.62% (7, 5.53%)
[8] United Kingdom - 3.50% (10, 2.94%)
[9] Netherlands - 3.47% (8, 3.50%)
[10] Japan - 3.17% (12, 2.61%)
[11] Spain - 2.64% (15, 1.82%)
[12] Israel - 2.36% (11, 2.94%)
[13] Canada - 2.22% (13, 2.46%)
[14] Belgium - 1.95% (14, 2.10%)
[15] Italy - 1.91% (18, 1.44%)
[16] Denmark - 1.73% (9, 3.07%)
[17] Sweden - 1.62% (16, 1.76%)
[18] Turkey - 1.59% (not ranked)
[19] Switzerland - 1.42% (19, 1.22%)
[20] Australia - 1.41% (17, 1.46%)

Parts of the Skype cybermap match what we know about the web's existing structure and power laws, and parts surprise. Look at the representation of Poland and Turkey, the two fastest-growing broadband markets in H2 2004, and also the impressive growth of China (wait until broadband development in India really picks up).

For all this developing market growth, the highest absolute growth since October came from Spain (4.6x October's level), Italy (4.2x), Japan (3.9x) and the UK (3.8x) - all wealthy markets (but hardly at the cutting edge of the internet, or of global entertainment content, for that matter). Conversely, Denmark, a very early adopter of Skype (in the very early days I believe it was the largest single country for a short period of time), has found itself swamped by growth elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

hello, question, What is the 100% for these percentages? Is it the total number of Skype users in the world? or is it the number of IM users in each country? what is your source?

James Enck said...

I think the post is quite clear. The numbers came from Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom himself, and present the proportion of total Skype users represented by each of the top 20 countries. The spreadsheet he sent me had actual numerical values for each of the top 20 countries, but I was asked not to use those, presumably because if people had grossed-up the numbers using percentages to get a total Skype user base, it would not have matched what Skype claimed at the time. In fact, as I recall, the total number I got from doing this exercise was about 30% lower than what they were claiming. I enquired as to what accounted for the difference, but never got an explanation.