Coming through my aggregator this morning is an article on the Spanish Technology Market in Business Week: "Europe's hottest IT market". Oh my goodness. It's a pure hype article that talks about "growth" rather than reality. Here's a sample paragraph:
... Spain now ranks as Western Europe's fastest-growing technology market. PC sales surged 29% in this year's first quarter, vs. just 6% for Europe as a whole, says researcher IDC. Internet usage also is booming: While just 16% of Spain's 41 million people were online in 2000, the figure reached 26% by the end of last year, according to Forrester Research Inc. If growth continues at its current pace, Spain will soon close the gap with countries such as France and Italy, where one-third of the population is now online.
Right. This article is complete baloney. There's been growth here, but it's all been in the form of catch up. Spain's just not there yet.
First, who knows where these reporters got their numbers from. In one paragraph they talk about how Spain has more broadband users than in the U.K. They're smoking CRACK on this one. Here's a quick overview from CyberAtlas:
Jupiter's research reveals that the countries with the largest economies will have the highest broadband subscriptions: 12.2 million will be in Germany; 6.6 million in France; and 8 million in the U.K. By 2004, there will be 2.3 million broadband households in Spain and they will outnumber the 1.9 million with narrowband.
So you can see that Business Week doesn't have a freakin' clue (mistaking 8 million for 800,000 is a bit large of a gap). That is not to say that Spain doesn't have some cool things going for it. Because they came in relatively late to the Internet and because of Telefonica's virtual monopoly, installing ADSL is as simple as installing a new phone line, so as the quote above said, more people are accessing the net here via high-speed connections than dial up. That's great. When I got my television cable installed I also could have opted for broadband internet access that way as well. So the choices are there (in the big cities at least).
However the reality is that not many people here use the internet daily. My wife's mother, for example, is the same age as my Mom. However, where my Mom is online via their relatively cheap dial up connection on their $700 Walmart PC, my wife's Mom thinks computers and the internet are completely beyond her as would most of her peers. Another anecdote, if you read this blog you'll remember that in December I was ecstactic to go back to the U.S. for a quick trip so I could get my hands on a WiFi card to try it out because at that time here in Madrid, they were no where to be found. Six months later and you can pick them up in the local department store, however that's over a year behind the U.S. and the prices are still over 200% what I paid for my NetGear in December.
And finally, the wages for tech workers here is as low as you can possibly get. I can't give you facts and figures, only my experience where in December I as a senior Java programmer was earning only $35,000 a year. That right there shows how mature the market really is.
So the reality is that Spain is growing quickly as a technology market, but as someone who lives and breathes tech and lives here in Spain, I can tell you that it still has a long way to go. Articles like that are just pure hype.