The most connected Asian countries are almost as well wired as the leading European and North American countries and actually lead in adoption of several categories of non-Web Internet use, such as chat, games and audio/video, according to a study carried out by NetValue SA.
Denmark has the highest proportion of households attached to the Internet (54 per cent) followed by the US (51 per cent). Asian countries take the next three spots through Singapore (47 per cent), Taiwan (40 per cent) and South Korea (37 per cent), according to the NetValue study of 12 countries.
Spain is less connected than China's four biggest cities -- Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen -- which have 18 per cent of their households connected. But Internet use is growing fast in both these communities, by 35 per cent in Spain and 20 per cent in the Chinese cities in the last six months.
More men than women access the Internet worldwide, with the proportion of male subscribers ranging from 66 per cent in Spain to 52 per cent in the US, while surfing preferences also vary widely by gender, NetValue found.
Investors with an eye to Asia should look closely at Internet use trends beyond just Web surfing, since Asia leads in every category except e-mail, according to NetValue.
The highest use of audio/video Internet content in the world is in South Korea, with 69 per cent of Internet users accessing this content, helped by the country's advanced broadband infrastructure. The next-highest figure in this category is found in Mexico, at 38 per cent.