During the past week or so, there have been some interesting new statistics about how Australians use technology.
The first was a study by Kantar subsidiary TNS looking at the percentage of the population who owned or used different types of devices.
The study found that Australia has the sixth highest rate of tablet ownership in the world, along with the 13th highest smartphone ownership rate, and the 10th highest rate of PC use (including both Macs and Windows PCs).
Despite all the hype about Silicon Valley, you (as an Australian) are more likely to own a smartphone or a tablet than a citizen of the US. Likewise, you are more likely to regularly use a PC than a citizen of the UK, US, New Zealand or Canada.
A second set of figures, this time compiled by ACMA, shot down the notion that there’s an urban/rural divide in terms of being willing to go online.
The report revealed 25% of people in rural and regional areas have purchased a product or service online, compared to just 21% in the major capital cities. It also found a greater percentage of non-rural homes now have broadband access than capital city homes had in 2009.
When it comes to using mobiles to look at the internet, ACMA’s figures showed 49% of people in major metropolitan areas and 32% in rural areas now do so regularly.
Clearly then, whether it is in an urban or a rural area, Australians are amongst the fastest in the world to adopt new technologies. It is reasonable to speculate that the proceeds of the mining boom would have been a contributing factor.
Unfortunately, this reality hasn’t sunk in yet for a lot of businesses.
Consider, for example, these comments by Australian retail king Gerry Harvey in September of last year.
“There are not many people who want to buy a fridge, or a TV or a dryer without going in and having a look at it,” he said.
“If you look at the internet retailers, they say that’s how everyone thinks and it’s going to double. But there’s no evidence that’s likely at all.
“It’s hyped up and given a lot of media coverage. The truth escapes all the time, and it’s largely fed by internet retailers.”
Of course, Gerry Harvey is far from alone. As of April last year, an astounding 35% of small businesses had still not engaged with the internet at all.
If you’re among the holdouts, the message is simple. Forget about China, Japan, the US or Korea. When it comes to penetration rates for new technologies, Australia is a world leader.
It’s no longer a matter of whether your customers will embrace the next big thing in tech – they already have. The real question is: What about your business?