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Russia is Europe’s largest internet market

After a slow start, Russia has now officially got the largest number of web users in Europe.

According to the latest Comscore report, 50.8 million Russians have access to the internet through either a home or work connection. This means that, for the first time, Russia has more internet users than Germany, which falls back to second place with 50.1 million users. It also pulls further ahead of France and Britain (42.3 million and 37.2 million users respectively).

Experts are bullish for the prospects of further growth in the Russian internet industry, noting that a great deal of work is underway to extend the country’s broadband networks. And, when you consider that Russia’s population is almost twice that of the next largest European country, the prospects for growth seem impressive. From reports, though, it appears that the Russian internet model will be based largely on mobile internet access – of the 91 million Russian internet users that GP Bullhound predict for 2013, 71 million are likely to have 3G access.

Some analysts have noted concerns that, although Russia has a large number of internet users, they do not use the internet as much or as regularly as users elsewhere in Europe, a problem which may present difficulties for Russian companies seeking to turn a profit from Russian internet users.

The Comcast data presents a mixed picture here. Russian internet users are typically online for an average of 22.4 hours per month, which is well behind some countries with advanced online economies (for example, the internet addicts of the UK, who spend more than 35 hours a month online), but is only just behind the European average of 26.4 hours per month. In fact, Russian usage is higher than some countries that you would expect to spend a lot of time – Denmark, for example, where the average user spends just 22.2 hours a month online.

According to Alexa, when not searching the web using, or, Russians spend most of their time on social networking sites, just like everyone else in Europe. The main difference, though, being that in Russia is only the third most popular network, behind both and

But it seems that, although starting from a low base because of the weaker Russian economy, the Russian online economy is following similar patterns to those in the rest of Europe and the United States. Earlier this month it was reported that Russian online advertising has grown by more than 50% and that, as a result, the industry is now larger than the Russian print advertising industry. In the third quarter of 2011, sales of online advertising in Russia were worth over $300 million – a figure which, if followed through over a twelve month period, would make it a billion dollar industry.

Further recommended reading – the Financial Times blog reports on the prospects for Russia’s biggest internet companies to grow their incomes, and Forbes reports on a press conference held by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in which he noted that outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was the only world leader who truly understands the internet. Wales told reporters that:

“Unfortunately, Sarkozy’s view on the internet is that it must be controlled and regulated. And at the G8 meeting, President Medvedev was the only leader to say something sensible whatsoever. So I think the headline of the story should be that Jimmy Wales says that President Medvedev is the only world leader who actually understands the internet.”

It’s a view that might surprise some in the Russian political sphere, given the occasional high profile arrest of a Russian blogger. However, it’s worth noting that the most dynamic political sphere in Russia today seems to be online, so perhaps Jimmy Wales has the right idea…


  • This is unspeakably shoddy.

    Do you really not care to report that with 50 million Internet users over 60% of Germany’s population is online while with the same number a mere 35% of Russia’s population is so enabled? Two-thirds of Russia’s population has no Internet access AT ALL and yet you report Russia is somehow normal?

    Do you really mean to suggest that Russians totally ignoring political reporting on the web in favor of meaningless fluff has the same significance (or lack thereof) in a country that has just seen a proud member of the secret police declare himself president for life as it does in a thriving democracy in Western Europe? Are you even REMOTELY aware of the Kremlin’s claims that Russians use the Internet to make up for the mendacious propaganda on their TV screens and newspapers, so it’s just fine for that situation to continue?

    A person who relied on this blog for real information about Russia would be like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand. Shame on you!

  • Fortunately, we have you to advise those poor unfortunate readers who are unaware of the staggeringly obvious fact that Russia is, indeed, a much larger country than Germany.

  • Oh, I don’t know; what does a high internet penetration rate really signify, anyway? I mean, if you look at world internet penetration and user statistics,

    even though Asia has by far the lion’s share of world users at 44% (compared to North America’s puny 13%), its penetration rate is well below the world average at 23.8%, and even further below Europe’s overall rate of 58.3%. You could argue that usage in other European countries is boosting Russia’s total, but the fact that it is Europe’s largest user argues the opposite. Besides, shouldn’t you be on a crusade to save Asia? I mean, after all, better than three-fourths of Asia’s population has no internet access AT ALL, shouldn’t you be telling the world Asia is not even close to normal? Oh, wait – better not: you owe them a lot of money.

    Here’s another reason you might want to hold your tongue – not only does internet penetration rate not necessarily make you smarter, significant evidence suggests the opposite there, too. America (North America as a whole, actually) has a staggering 78.3% penetration rate, easily the highest in the world and nearly 20% higher than its closest competitor. Does that make Americans smarter about science? Apparently not, since one in 5 adult Americans thinks the sun revolves around the earth.

    How about natural history? Mmm….nope, afraid not – more than half as many Americans (and better than 20% surveyed) believe in witchcraft as believe in the theory of evolution.

    Well, what about national history? Ooooooo…sorry. Only 76% of Americans can correctly name the country from whom America won its independence – Great Britain. An amazing 19% were unsure, 2% thought America used to belong to France, and another 3% were just silly, including answers like China and Russia.

    Surely Americans, with their remarkable access to the internet, did better in politics and world affairs? Well, you tell me: 18% of adult Americans surveyed believe their current president is a Muslim,

    and despite nearly round-the-clock coverage of the war in Iraq, 63% of Americans aged 18 to 24 could not find it on a map 3 years after the war started. Despite knee-jerk support for Israel, 70% of young-adult Americans can’t find it on a map.

    But 22% of Americans can name all 5 family members on the animated cartoon, “The Simpsons”.

  • Although America won its independence from Great Britain, it also purchased parts of its territory from both France and Russia, so maybe there’s something in some of the sillier answers 🙂

    Not China though. That’s just daft.

  • It sounds plausible (given the Chinese had a comprehensive pharmacopeia when there was nothing much in North America but trees and Indians), and I’d like to believe it. But you can never trust a eunuch.

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