timone NetMarketing
disponibile anche in italiano

Marketing in the internet – as seen from Italy

No. 61 – December 15, 2001

Other articles on similar subjects
are published in English
in the monthly Offline column


loghino.gif (1071 byte) 1. Editorial: In memory of Peter Blake

Peter Blake was murdered on December 6, 2001 in Macapà, Amazon. He wasn’t only the famous winner of the America’s Cup, but also a great sailor in the open seas – and he had other human qualities, including a keen interest in the environment. I have a personal reason for admiring him – my love for the sea and sailing. But there are two lessons to be learnt that are related to the subject of this newsletter.

  • Pirates aren’t just a memory of the past. They exist today (and not only in remote places). They are not romantic heroes. They are brutal criminals, ruthless murderers. To use the definition “pirate” in any other context isn’t just an abuse of language (and a insult to victims). It’s a deliberately dirty trick. It makes no sense to call someone a “pirate” just because he or she is using a piece of software, or listening to music, without paying fees to some greedy provider of technology or entertainment. It can be debatable if doing so is a violation of a valid contract. But in any case it’s nonsensical that it be treated legally as a crime (in some countries, including my own, penalties are almost as severe as those for murder).

  • A different lesson comes from the experience of the America’s Cup. The New Zealand team was unbeatable. Not only because of the superior performance of their boats, but even more importantly because of the way their crew worked. There was total harmony in every detail. Everyone understood everything. From the beginning of the project, every detail of the equipment had been designed by people working in close symbiosis with the people who were going to use it. Even before Peter Blake was murdered, that very special team was being disrupted and dismembered by rivals enticing people away (mostly with money). This sort of thing happens in many organizations. When “quality circles” are almost magically generated extraordinary results are achieved. But they are not always allowed to survive. With so many mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and reorganizing, human resources are often sacrificed. The result is deterioration of quality, loss of motivation, waste of human resources. This is a serious problem in all human activities – and especially so in the turbulent evolution of new technologies.

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loghino.gif (1071 byte) 2. Terrorism and internet freedom

There is a fair amount of debate in the United States on how much freedom we should give up for the need to fight terrorism. Much less in Europe. Governments, authorities, police and intelligence already have considerable powers of investigation and interception, and are getting more. Many of these added powers, and reduced protection of privacy, are of no use whatsoever in fighting terrorism (or other forms of crime) while they allow indiscriminate and undisclosed monitoring and control. Though it’s obviously denied, there are strong reasons to believe that part of these activities are used for the benefit of private enterprises – as well as to collect personal data for commercial use.

What is necessary to fight terrorism and crime needs to be done. But it should not be used as an excuse for invasive activities that are unrelated to that objective. This is no time to relax in the defense of freedom, privacy and civil rights.


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loghino.gif (1071 byte) 3. New worldwide data

As said in previous issues – since November 2000 detailed analyses of internet statistics are in the data section of this site (now available also in English). This is a summary of the most relevant information in the most recent worldwide data, published at the end of November 2001.

The number of internet hosts has increased to 125 million (it was 109 million at the end of year 2000). Growth is a bit faster in the rest of the world, but the position of the United States remains dominant, as is obvious in this chart (12 countries with over a million internet hosts).

Internet hosts in 12 countries
countries with over a million hosts


If, for better readability, we exclude the US, this is the picture for the other 20 countries with over 500,000 hosts.

Internet hosts in 20 countries
countries with over 500,000 hosts   (United States excluded)


The situation in Italy has changed substantially in thelast two years. Another major change is the growth of the Netherlands. According to more recent European data, Russia would now appear in this chart, with a hostcount over 800,000.

The next chart shows density, in proportion to population, for the 21 counties with over 500,000 internet hosts.

Internet hosts per 1000 inhabitants in 21 countries
countries with over 500,000 hosts


The dominant position of the United States is confirmed also from this point of view. Density continues to grow in traditionally strong areas, such as Scandinavia and Australia, while there are relevant changes in Europe and in parts of Asia and Latin America.

The next picture is density seen as a world map.

Internet hosts per 1000 inhabitants

world map

Several countries are growing faster than average, but the internet is far from being “global”. A large part of the world is still almost totally excluded.

The next graph shows hostcount in relation to income.

Internet hosts in relation to income (GNP) in 21 countries
countries with over 500,000 hosts


Some large countries (such as Japan, Germany, France and Italy) are relatively weak in proportion to the size of their economies – as we had seen also in the analysis of European data. Some contries in Asia (such as Taiwan) and in Eastern Europe (such as Poland) appear particularly strong from this point of view.

We can look at the situation from a somewhat different perspective. There are 12 countries worldwide with over a million internet hosts. But they are 13 (eight over two million, that soon will be nine) if we consider cultural communities – especially the Spanish speaking area.

Internet hosts
numbers in thousands
(United States not included for better readablity of the graph)

The red part of bars indicates growth in two years (1999-2001)

There is a more detailed document online about two large language communities – Spanish and Chinese (so far it’s available only in Italian and Spanish, but also in this case charts and graphs are clear regardless of language).

The internet is practically unavailable in most of mainland China, but there is considerable growth in Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Chinese-speaking areas. The Chinese online community has probably increased to over two million internet hosts in the second half of year 2001 (overtaking Italy – but not yet Germany or Britain).

The Spanish-speaking area has fast growth, with a 75 percent increase in 12 months (well above the 35 percent worldwide average).

The obvious fact remains that English is dominant, with 70 percent of the total if we consider only countries where that is the local language – and probably 90 percent if we include all the people online who can read and write in English.



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