Sweden remains top information society

Sweden has maintained its position as the economy most in tune with information technology in all its aspects, even though Australia is making a remarkably strong showing, according to a study released by market analyst IDC. The IDC/World Times Information Society Index (ISI) showed that the U.S. slipped from second place in last year's index to fourth this year, allowing two more Nordic countries -- Norway and Finland -- to take the second and third spots. Denmark, the UK, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore and the Netherlands filled out the top 10.

The ISI ranks countries according to their ability to access and absorb information and information technology. It tracks data from 55 countries that collectively account for 97 per cent of the global gross domestic product and 99 per cent of IT expenditure. The rating is based on four infrastructure categories: computer, information, Internet and social infrastructures, and the weighting given to a country's Internet infrastructure has been increased this year, as the Internet had almost 100 million new users in 2000, IDC said.

The US has the highest score in the computer infrastructure category, followed by Singapore and Australia. Computer infrastructure measurements are based on computer shipments, numbers of installed computers and hardware and software spending.

The countries with the strongest information infrastructure are Taiwan, the Netherlands and Denmark. Information infrastructure is a measure of factors such as radio, TV, fax and cell phone ownership, cost of a phone call and phone network error rates.

Norway, Hong Kong and Japan have the strongest social infrastructure, with the US in seventeenth place. The social infrastructure category measures civil liberties, newspaper readership per capita, press freedom and secondary and tertiary school enrolment.

As the Internet moves away from a PC-centric model, countries that are advanced in other access methods, particularly mobile phones, will begin to improve their ISI rankings, according to IDC.

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