April 8, 2003, 12:00 AM

Countries united by language are divided by web use, says Forrester

A whopping 82.1% of UK users go online to visit daily newspaper sites, while more Americans–69.9%-go online to shop than for any other reason.

The four largest English-speaking countries, united by a common language, are divided by their national behavior online, according to new findings from Forrester Research Inc. Significant differences in Internet usage, technology and motivations for online use characterize Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Australians, for example, responded most strongly to test statements such as “Technology is important to me,” and “I like to impress people with my lifestyle.” Forrester characterizes a higher proportion of the Australian population as likely to be lured by gadgets and the web’s entertainment benefits, yet of the four countries, Australia has the lowest number of online users – 4% -- who have broadband access at home.

Canada, with 22% of users having broadband access at home, leads the other countries in Internet usage, with 64% of the population going online at least once a month. It also has the highest percentage of users–-6.7%--who use the web to access adult entertainment sites, and the lowest of any of the four–-2.5%--who use the web to bid or sell at auctions.

UK users are avid readers of online newspapers, with 82.1% of users, by far the highest of any of the four countries, using the web to visit daily newspaper sites. However, only 7.1% of UK users visited magazine web sites, the lowest rate in any of the four countries. A greater percentage of users in the UK than in any of the other countries–-18.8%--use the web to visit government sites.

The United States is characterized by Forrester as “full of early adopters and shoppers.” It has the highest percentage of the population who has made a purchase and then pay online, 69.6%. US users have the lowest rate of any of the four countries in consumers’ use of the Internet to visit government agency sites–-6.5%--and adult entertainment sites, 5.2%.

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