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Digital divergence on personal tech

News, 20 January 2015

DAVOS: Most internet users globally believe that personal technology is making the world a better place but a new survey also highlights some significantly different attitudes between consumers in developed markets and those in developing ones.

Tech giant Microsoft polled 12,002 internet users in 12 countries – France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the US, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa and Turkey – for its second annual report on how personal technology is changing our lives.

The positive impacts were centred round how we shop, work, learn and generally get things done.


Majorities in all 12 countries surveyed said they were able to find more affordable products (74%), while innovation in business (72%) and starting new businesses (68%) were also important pluses; education (67%) and productivity (65%) completed the top five positive effects.

Privacy was by some distance the biggest concern and this had jumped five points since last year's survey to 52% of all respondents; India was the only country surveyed where a majority did not express a negative view of this aspect of technology's impact.

The other most pressing issues were personal security (26%) and trust in media (24%), with the latter point also illustrating how perceptions differ depending on where one is standing.

Respondents in developing countries believed by a 2:1 margin that personal technology has had a mostly positive effect on trust in the media; but in developed countries respondents thought, again by a 2:1 margin, that the effect on trust in the media has been mostly negative.

The study pointed out that this was a consequence of differing media habits, with 70% of respondents in developing countries getting most of their news from social media, compared to only 31% in developed countries.

Other areas where views diverged were on how personal technology is affecting social bonds. People in developing countries were more optimistic in this regard: 60% thought it was having a positive effect compared to just 36% in developed markets.

Similarly, 59% of emerging market consumers welcomed new sharing economy services, such as Airbnb or Uber, far head of the 33% figure for developed countries.

Data sourced from PR Newswire, Microsoft; additional content by Warc staff