OECD Internet Economy Outlook 2012

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04 Oct 2012
9789264086463 (PDF) ;9789264086456(print)

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The Internet is now a fundamental infrastructure supporting the economy and is firmly in its 2nd stage of development, having evolved from a data network connecting PCs with wires to a much broader network of new portable devices from mobile phones to tablet computers. It is also on the cusp of a much larger expansion to objects that typically did not have communications capabilities: the "Internet of things" is projected to have more connections than the people using them. This raises many important socio-economic and political issues for stakeholders to consider, as economies and societies become increasingly inter-meshed.

Supported by time series data, this publication begins with an overview of trends and highlights how the Internet sector has proven to be resilient during the recent economic crisis. It then examines the various drivers and impacts of Internet use and deployment, as well as emerging technologies, broadband, e-commerce, e-health, digital content, security and privacy, and reflects on a methodology for measuring the Internet economy.

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  • Foreword

    The OECD Internet Economy Outlook 2012 has been prepared by the OECD under the guidance of the OECD Committee for Information, Computer and Communications Policy (ICCP), and in particular the Working Party on the Information Economy. This edition is the first in a series designed to provide a broad overview of trends, policy developments and data on the expanding impact of the Internet on the economy and society, replacing and building upon the long-running OECD Information Technology Outlook. This publication also updates the key data series from the OECD Information Technology Outlook 2010.

  • Executive summary

    The Internet began as a way of linking different computers over the phone network, but it now connects billions of users worldwide from wherever they happen to be via portable or fixed devices. People with no access to water, electricity or other services may have access to the Internet from their mobile phone. The Internet is a multi-billion dollar industry in its own right, but it is also a vital infrastructure for much of the world’s economy. The OECD Internet Economy Outlook provides data on the evolving Internet economy, emphasises trends across the OECD area, and highlights emerging policy issues.

  • Expanding connectivity and measuring the Internet economy

    This opening chapter examines the key driving factors behind the recent growth in mobile connectivity tied to smartphones and tablets, anticipating the third wave of smart connected objects (the Internet of things) and the ways in which markets, businesses, governments and the daily lives of citizens are being reshaped in the process. It also discusses the importance of and challenges to measuring the Internet economy, and presents new research, approaches and methodologies in this field.

  • ICTs, the Internet and the crisis: Macro trends

    This chapter examines the Internet within the broader view of the ICT sector as a whole. It explores the impact of the recent fiscal and economic crisis on the sector in terms of both ICT goods and services. It examines the top 250 ICT firms by country and sector, and looks at the current status of Internet intermediary and semiconductor firms. The chapter also looks at the various aspects of Internet investment, including venture capital, investment in R&D, as well as ICT markets, spending and investment. Finally, it offers its conclusions on the current health and growth of the ICT sector.

  • Internet trends and development

    This chapter provides a forward-looking perspective on recent trends in ICT technologies, applications and services, and offers predictions for development over the next few years, highlighting particular trends that could have a substantial impact on future policy. It examines these trends in terms of networks, devices and services. It concludes with an analysis of Internet developments in various sectors of the economy. The chapter also highlights three key overarching trends: the growth of broadband, the importance of mobility, and the shift to cloud computing.

  • Internet adoption and use: Households and individuals

    This chapter examines Internet adoption by households and individuals. It looks at connectivity trends with a particular focus on the widespread uptake of smartphones as Internet-enabled devices. It then describes currents forms of Internet usage and details the services provided via this powerful communication platform. It explores the growth of e-commerce and e-banking to the use of the Internet in education for learning and training. Finally, data in this chapter highlight digital divides in key segments of the population, cutting across different groupings by education, geography, age, gender and income level.

  • Internet adoption and use: Businesses

    This chapter provides an overview of ICT diffusion and use within businesses in OECD countries, focusing mainly on the Internet. Using the most up-to-date datasets and building on a series of indicators, it attempts to cover selected issues related to key aspects of firms’ engagements in the information economy. It examines the extent of computer and Internet access and use among firms, and analyses the growth in broadband access and quality of connections. The chapter also looks at the various phases of e-business development and levels of complexity of external and internal communications, going from simple information sharing to more integrated issues such as supply chain management. The chapter then looks at the development of electronic commerce and its perceived benefits, and concludes with some considerations on real impacts of ICTs on business performance.

  • Developments in digital content

    This chapter analyses intangible digital content products: goods and services that are downloaded, streamed or hosted over the Internet. It discusses key trends that have characterised the growth of digital content markets and factors that have enabled this development, focusing in particular on Internet infrastructure, the increasing availability of digital content products, and the skills required to create and access them. It analyses the growth of Web 2.0, social media networks, local content and adaptive approaches in the film, music, news, gaming and related industries leading to new business models, including the evolution of online advertising.

  • ICTs for health and ageing

    This chapter examines recent trends in information and communication technologies for health and ageing. The use of ICTs in the health sector still lags behind many other parts of the economy in most OECD countries, yet the advantages and potential savings are evident. The ability of health ICTs to deliver better health in addition to an economic growth dividend is motivating significant public investment. Most efforts in recent years have focused on fostering the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) by general practitioners and in hospitals. But the potential applications for health extend well beyond EHRs. Telehealth is increasingly seen as an important tool for enhancing healthcare delivery, particularly in rural and remote areas where healthcare resources and expertise are often scarce or even non-existent. Mobile health applications and social networks also provide unique and unprecedented opportunities for empowering patients and addressing the growing needs of ageing populations. Without question, there are challenges ahead in the evolution of the ICT health ecosystem. As business models change, the issues of privacy, security and quality of service are becoming increasingly important. Continued commitments to broadband, open standards and interoperability are essential for successful change.

  • Security and privacy

    The chapter presents trends in research and development (R&D) investments in the area of security and privacy and their outcome in terms of patent fillings. It examines the emergence of innovative products (goods and services) related to security and privacy as measured by trademarks and analyses the emerging new business models required to deploy these products. The chapter then briefly discusses the role of employment and skills as enabling factors for innovation in security and privacy, focusing in particular, on statistics on the availability of security and privacy professionals.

  • Government priorities and policy developments

    This chapter reviews government priorities for different ICT policy areas. The first section maps ICT policy priorities in OECD countries against the wider economic, social and political context. This is followed by a discussion of specific ICT policy areas including security of information systems and networks, enhancing current infrastructure through the deployment of broadband and IPv6, e-government, e-health, ICT skilling and digital content. The final section examines ways to foster innovation with a focus on green ICT programmes. Analysis is based on detailed information provided by 22 OECD member countries and the European Commission, as well as recent OECD work.

  • Methodological considerations

    In September 2011, the OECD organised an expert roundtable that focused on appropriate terminology, measurement concepts and methodologies to measure the Internet economy. The roundtable assembled policy makers, researchers and representatives from academia and the business community. The participants concluded that the term Internet economy referred to various quantifiable economic impacts of the Internet, and recognised that this concept varied in scope. Consequently, the roundtable adopted three general approaches that involved measuring the: i) direct impact; ii) dynamic impact; and iii) indirect impact of the Internet economy ().

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