Irish becoming web sophisticates, says iReach

5 May 2006

Irish consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated web users seeking richer online content, a new report claims. According to research firm iReach some 45pc of Irish homes are now online and internet subscriptions in Ireland — increasing by 9pc a year — currently stands at 874,000 people.

Better online applications, richer broader media such as voice and video, the availability of better technology such as broadband and more sophisticated end users are the foundation upon which internet growth in Ireland going forward is being built.

Broadband, iReach says, now accounts for 31pc of internet subscriptions. It says the increase in bandwidth allows for a more positive online experience for consumers. The broadband and 3G evolutions, while increasing access speeds, are also bringing new devices to consumers, which in turn are backed by better software. Combined, iReach says, these factors make the internet a more user-friendly consumer environment and increases online tenure.

The sophistication of users is also a key factor. More people are spending more time, more often on more online applications. “As users move online as a way of life for commerce, social and communication purposes across multiple devices they become tech savvy, which drives their desire for more. The integration of PC and mobile internets will be a key factor in driving consumers online and will offer significant commercial opportunities for Irish companies,” iReach analyst Enda Kelly said.

The importance of the richness and availability of digital content should not be underestimated. Consumers are continuously turning online in search of richer broader media such as voice and video. Currently the digital music industry is a key driver in getting users online and iReach believes this phenomenon will be replicated for video media with services such as video downloads and video on demand.

“The ability of users to create, control, personalise, and share media is also a key factor evident in the huge growth in online communities, covering everything from photo sharing to online social communities, and is an area yet to be exploited to its full potential in the Irish market,” Kelly said.

iReach says the number of online subscribers in Ireland is steadily increasing year on year. Significantly, these users are becoming more invested in the internet to meet their needs in terms of using online applications to reach richer content.

“As this online market continues to expand significant commercial opportunities exist for Irish companies to reach a large consumer base by focusing more on content and less on infrastructure access,” Kelly concluded.

By John Kennedy