Did you know that 18.3 percent of the world's Internet users are from the U.S., while 11.1 percent are from China and 8 percent from Japan? Did you know that venture capitalists invested less money in the U.S. software and biotechnology industries in 2005 than they did in 2004? Would it surprise you that venture capital investment in IT services grew by more than 50 percent between 2004 and 2005?
This information and a lot more is packed into the 2006 edition of the Digital Economy Fact Book, released Monday by the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF), a conservative think-tank based in Washington, D.C. PFF researchers gathered data from a variety of public and private sources in the fact book, available at http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/books/factbook_2006.pdf.
This eighth edition of the fact book, 135 pages long, includes information on the growth of the Internet, plus the hardware sector, the communications sector and e-commerce.
For example, while there were a combined 233.6 million residents of the U.S. and U.K. using the Internet as of the end of 2005, English was the language used by 312.8 million Internet users. Chinese was the second most popular language of Internet users, with 132.3 million Chinese speakers online this year.
The total number of Internet users passed 1 billion in 2005, up from 420 million in 2000, the fact book says.
A number of controversies over Internet policy, including congressional debates over net neutrality and court cases over tech patents, have dominated the news in the past year, noted outgoing PFF President Ray Gifford, in the fact book's introduction. Those issues aren't going away soon, but the Internet continues to grow despite the controversies, he added.
"The digital economy remains dynamic and vibrant -- almost as if the policy battles in Washington, Brussels, and elsewhere mean little to the innovators, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists that fuel the incredible economic productivity growth brought about because of information technology," Gifford wrote.
All those people online are also spending money there, the fact book says. U.S. online retail sales were US$23.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2005, up from $19.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2004 and $9.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2001. E-commerce represented 2.5 percent of total retail sales in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2005, steadily rising from 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 1999.
A few of those billion-plus Internet users also like to send unwanted e-mail, otherwise known as spam. Two-thirds of all e-mail sent in March was spam, while only 20 percent of it was legitimate, the fact book says. Nine percent of all e-mail sent bounced, while 3 percent was virus e-mail and 1 percent was phishing e-mail.
Nearly 44 percent of all spam came from the U.S. and another 13.6 percent came from China, the book says. More than 52.2 percent of spam focused on pharmaceutical products, and 15.5 percent pitched "enhancer" products.
Global revenues of security software vendors grew from $7.9 billion in 2003 to an estimated $10 billion in 2005, the book says.