By Christina Croll

From increased data traffic in Australia to millions of cell phone users in China, consumers and businesses alike are eagerly adopting new technologies in countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Gartner predicts that Australia and Japan will lead the region in online consumer and business spending, with spending in Australia alone nearly equaling the rest of Asia-Pacific combined, with the exception of Japan. That country is expected to generate almost two-and-a-half times the level of spending in Australia.

Last month in Brisbane, Australia, IT industry leaders from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and India gathered at Gartner’s annual Australia Symposium/ITxpo to talk about how e-business is transforming cultures and companies in this part of the world. (TechRepublic is a subsidiary of Gartner.)
Did you attend the Gartner Australian Symposium/ITxpo conference? If so, send us your comments on the show and on this article.
“Tomorrow’s Web will be 10 times bigger than today’s Net by any measure—users, end points, or traffic,” said Gartner’s senior vice president for Asia-Pacific operations, Bob Hayward, during his keynote address to 2,000 conference attendees.

“The typical person connecting to the Net is no longer a yuppie day trader in California, but a teenager in Hong Kong making plans on his instant messaging chat phone,” he said.

According to Gartner, the top four Asia-Pacific countries for both B2C and B2B spending are:

  1. Japan
  2. Australia
  3. Korea
  4. Taiwan

Consumer spending
Despite their large populations, other Asia-Pacific countries, such as China and India, do not appear near the top of the list for online spending. Although China has the world’s fastest growing community of Internet users—20 million this year, projected to climb to 60 million within a few years—very few of those users have discretionary income to spend on online goods and services. Similarly, in India, even with a population of more than a billion people (and three million people using the Internet today), few consumers are spending money online.

The Chinese, however, are avidly buying other technology-related products, such as mobile phones. Gartner reports that in the first four months of this year, 30 million mobile phones were sold in China—three times more mobile phones than have ever been sold in all of Australia.

Business spending
The adoption of technology for businesses in the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise as well. Gartner estimates that IT spending by businesses in that region will exceed 10 percent of revenues within most large organizations in the next few years.

This year, for the first time ever, the amount of data traffic over the landline telephone network in Australia exceeded that of voice traffic. By 2005, Gartner predicts that voice traffic in Australia could be less than 10 percent of total landline traffic.

Companies in the Asia-Pacific region that do not keep up with this level of investment in IT infrastructure are in danger of falling behind, Gartner predicted.

“The greatest danger for all of us,” Hayward said, “is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.”

Christina Croll is the director of business development at TechRepublic.

Do you work in the IT industry in an Asia-Pacific country? If so, share your experiences with us.
To read more about the IT industry in the Asia-Pacific region, read this article about potential limiting factors of the growth of e-business.