RealTime IT News

Europe Expects 40-Fold Increase in "Convergent Consumers"

[London, ENGLAND] A new report to be published in December by Phillips Global Media says that over the next five years there will be a huge increase in the number of Europeans who use all three main digital platforms, namely digital TV, mobile devices, and the Internet.

Calling them "convergent consumers," the report says they will grow rapidly from a small base of just 1.6 million at the end of 1999 to nearly 70 million by 2005 -- a 40-fold increase over the period.

Produced for PGM by interactive media consulting group Digiscope, the report says that real, technological convergence of the different media is still a long way off. However, in the meantime, we can expect to see many more convergent consumers with whom companies can build relationships via the three main digital platforms.

The report's author Barry Flynn warned that many of the perceived values of convergence are actually years away.

"If anything, digital has brought more fragmentation of service than convergence. However, Europe is rapidly developing a significant market of convergent consumers. The new digital platforms allow a much more sophisticated development of the customer relationship, tracking and managing their likes and dislikes across platforms," said Flynn.

Earlier this week, Peter Job, chief executive of news agency Reuters, made the point that on the Internet "content is no longer king," and that companies have to offer much more than content to survive in these competitive markets. Flynn made a similar point during the announcement of his report, explaining that in the new convergent marketplace, consumer meta content (content about consumers) is going to be as important as content itself.

"The owners of meta content are going to be extremely powerful in the new convergent marketplace and companies such as BSkyB, Vivendi, NTL, Vodafone and UPC look particularly well positioned to exploit this rapidly growing marketplace," said Flynn.

In producing the report, Digiscope assessed the cross-platform infrastructure capabilities of 11 key markets across Europe. Results showed that Scandinavia and the U.K. have the highest penetration of cross platform consumers together with the best overall infrastructures across the three platforms. Belgium and Italy came at the bottom of the list.

The report, entitled "Digital TV, Internet & Mobile Convergence - developments and projections for Europe," will be available for purchase in early December.