Sweden Tops IDC’s Information Society Index for Fourth Consecutive Year

FRAMINGHAM, MA -July 15, 2003 – For the fourth consecutive year, Sweden received the top ranking in IDC's Information Society Index (ISI), which measures the abilities of 53 nations to participate in the information revolution. Joining Sweden in the ISI's top 5 were Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and Finland. The United States ranked 8th in the Index.


The ISI is a unique study that combines 15 variables in four infrastructure "pillars" to calculate and rank each nation's ability to access and utilize information and information technology. In much the same way that gross domestic product (GDP) measures a country's economic wealth, the ISI measures its information capacity and wealth. The four pillars are:

Computers – This pillar looks at the basic building blocks of information society by measuring the number of PC households, IT spending as a percentage of GDP, software spending as a percentage of total IT spending, and IT services spending weighted against GDP.

Internet – The Internet is a key factor in the development of an advanced information society. This pillar factors in the number of Internet users within a country, the percentage of users with Internet access at home, the number of mobile Internet users, and ecommerce spending.

Telecoms – To better understand how each society accesses information, this pillar measures variables related to broadband adoption, wireless services, and mobile handset shipments.

Social – Social factors provide the glue that enables society to fix onto the advantages offered by innovation. This pillar evaluates a society's ability to utilize information technology by measuring education, civil liberties, and government corruption.

"Civil liberties and education are as important to the Information Society as personal computers and mobile phones," noted Stephen Minton, research director for the IDC Worldwide IT Markets and Strategies research portfolio. "Governments which seek to restrict the free and open exchange of information will face an uphill battle against technological innovation, and will merely succeed in hold back their nation's development toward its full potential."

At the top of the rankings, Sweden received high scores in a number of variables across all four pillars. Based on 2002 data, Sweden's mobile subscriber penetration reached 80% of the population and one quarter of Internet users are already accessing the Web, at least some of the time, through mobile devices. Meanwhile, IT spending makes up more than 4% of Sweden's GDP, with software comprising 20% of total IT spending. Sweden also earned strong scores on all the social factors, particularly education.

In comparison with the U.S., Sweden ranks higher primarily due to a lead in telecoms variables, notably mobile subscribers, broadband and handset shipments. The U.S. scores higher for computers, based on PC penetration per household, and IT spending, but Sweden enjoys a slight lead in social and Internet-related scores.

At the bottom of the rankings were the less-developed Information Societies – countries where there is far less ability to access and use information and information technology. Of the 53 countries profiled in IDC's Information Society Index, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China, and Turkey received the lowest overall scores. It should be noted, however, that these scores are based on a profile of each country as a whole. In addition, the study only examined those countries where IDC has a substantial local research presence, representing the 53 largest IT markets in the world. It is wrong to interpret the Index as a statement that these countries have the world's least developed Information Societies or are among the world's least developed countries.

The study, Information Society Index 2003: Preliminary Rankings and Data (IDC #29731), provides an explanation of new categories and methodology alongside preliminary country rankings and data. The full report, dataset, and forecast will follow in August 2003.

About IDC

IDC is the premier global market intelligence and advisory firm in the information technology and telecommunications industries. We analyze and predict technology trends so that our clients can make strategic, fact-based decisions on IT purchases and business strategy. Over 700 IDC analysts in 50 countries provide local expertise and insights on technology markets. Business executives and IT managers have relied for 40 years on our advice to make decisions that contribute to the success of their organizations.

IDC is a division of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. Additional information can be found at www.idc.com

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