Boston Consulting Group (2010) The Internet’s New Billion: Digital Consumers in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Indonesia Boston MA: Boston Consulting Group. You can download the full report from this site.

This report analyses and predicts growth in ICTs in Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia (BRICI) over the next five years (to 2015).

Here are some key statistics from the report:

  • Internet penetration rates in the BRICI countries will experience compound annual growth of 9 to 20 per- cent from year-end 2009 through 2015
  • Personal computers are much less prevalent than mobile devices in the BRICI countries
  • PC penetration in Brazil and Russia is around 32 percent, while in China it is only about 20 percent. Indonesia and India have PC penetration rates of only about 5 percent. By comparison, PC penetration in the United States and Japan is about 90 percent or more.
    Growth will push these penetration rates up in the coming years, but only Russia and Brazil will have PC penetration rates that exceed 50 percent in 2015.
  • Mobile phones are already very popular tools for communicating and seeking out entertainment. Russia leads the BRICI countries in SIM penetration at 141 percent (many Russians own more than one SIM card), followed by Brazil’s 86 percent. China,  India, and Indonesia have SIM penetration rates ranging between 41 percent and 66 percent. By comparison, the United States and Japan are both at around 90  percent. By 2015, SIM penetration in China and India is expected to reach 84 percent and 75 percent, respectively, while that in Brazil and Indonesia will surpass 100 percent
  • As sophisticated handsets become available in the BRICI markets, more and more digital consumers are turning to mobile Internet to meet their online needs, particularly in markets with high access costs or limited fixed-line broadband availability.
  • Much of the mobile growth in India has occurred in the last 24 to 36 months, driven by steady declines in tariffs. Rates for voice calls are currently as low as $0.006 per minute.
  • Brazil will overtake the USA in 2015 in terms of the number of Internet users as a proportion of the population.
Table 4x3
Number of internet users divided by population, %

See also Globe and Mail Report on Business, page 2, Thursday, 2 September, 2010, for a report on this study. (I’ve given up trying to find the electronic version of the Globe and Mail’s articles – their search engine and index are a nightmare).

Implications for e-learning

I draw two main conclusions from this article:

  • access to e-learning is going to increase dramatically in these countries over the next few years
  • mobile learning will be the key

The big questions though are:

  • will educational institutions in these countries have the will and the resources to exploit this opportunity? (My predictions: Brazil, already; China and India, probably, but not the mainstream/prestigious institutions – watch for a rapid growth in commercial e-learning;  Russia, doubtful; Indonesia, only in small pockets)
  • will mobile learning develop strategies and applications that will enable high quality, comprehensive educational programs to be delivered without access to PCs? (My prediction: not within 5 years, but watch for pads rather than phones as the route to go.)

Any comments, especially from readers in BRICI countries?



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