Internet users in the BRICI countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Indonesia – is set to exceed 1.2 billion by 2015, well over three times the rates of the U.S. and Japan combined, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In 2009, the BRICI countries represented about 45 percent of the world’s population and about 15 percent of global GDP, and had some 610 million Internet users.
China will be over 52% urban in 2015 and about 60% urban in 2020 and about 70% urban in 2030
The trends are toward a mostly middle class population of city dwellers with mobile phones and high levels of internet usage.
The combined population of Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia will be about 3.7 billion people in 2020 (out of about 7.5-8 billion worldwide).
Although there are only 440 million PCs in the BRICI countries at present, this number should more than double by 2015—and Internet cafés and mobile devices will also act as important means of digital access.
The habits exhibited in the BRICI countries differ markedly from those in the developed markets—for instance, instant messaging is vastly more popular, as are online music and games. There are remarkable variations among the BRICI countries as well. Social networking is more popular in Indonesia and Brazil than in any of the other BRICI countries—or even in the developed markets. And while an extremely high percentage of Indian digital consumers use e-mail, Chinese Internet users have gravitated toward instant messaging.
Among the most prominent trends is that BRICI digital consumers are far more likely to be meeting their digital needs through mobile phones than through personal computers. With PC penetration still quite low, mobile phones are cheaper and more convenient tools for both communicating and seeking out entertainment—already, the BRICI countries have around 1.8 billion mobile-phone SIM card subscriptions, more than four times the combined total of those in the United States and Japan. In fact, as sophisticated handsets become available in the BRICI markets, millions of BRICI digital consumers are leapfrogging over PC usage and going online via their mobile phones, a trend that has significant implications for their Internet-usage habits.
In addition, BRICI Internet users are unusually young—more than 60 percent of digital consumers are under the age of 35—which means that although the online habits of BRICI consumers are still being formed, these behavior patterns will have broad implications for future online activity. As they earn ever-higher incomes and develop more complex online needs, digital companies will see colossal opportunities to monetize services and products—provided that they can keep up with the pace of change in the BRICI digital markets.