Congratulations! If you're reading this, you're probably an early adopter of VoIP phone service, at least in the US. Consider yourself one of the few, the proud, the adventurous.
I say that because a recent study by Ipsos, a global market research company, has revealed some surprising statistics: In the US, using VoIP service to make phone calls still only represents 6% of people with Internet connections. (This despite the popularity of Skype, the mainstream ad campaigns of residential VoIP service provider Vonage and its catchy Kill Bill theme music, and the business advantages of VoIP service providers like 8x8 or Ring.com.)
As far as market penetration for VoIP phone service goes, we're tied with those great brewers of beer and inventors of French fries, the Belgians — but still ahead of the French, who check in at 4%.
The VoIP phone service data was really just a footnote to the larger question of social media use. The Ipsos study, conducted for Reuters News, involved survey respondents from 24 countries and inquired about their online activities. Most of the statistics are hardly eye-opening.
While social media has enticed 62% of the international audience of "online-connected global citizens" to participate, email is still the number one activity of Web surfers around the world, with 85% of all netizens using email. Hungarians are the most frequent emailers, with 94% of them badgering their friends and co-workers with deep thoughts, tasteless jokes, and funny cat pictures. (My guess is they probably didn't ask Nigerian spammers to participate in the survey, though, or the Hungarians would have come in second.) Sweden, Belgium, Indonesia, Argentina, and Poland all ranked at 90% or above.
Social media use (including blogs and forums) was highest in Indonesia, where 83% of that country's Internet users regularly spend time checking in on the exciting lives of friends and family or instigating arguments on message boards. The next most socially-obsessed country was Argentina at 76%, followed by Russia at 75%.
Overall, VoIP phone service calling has only caught on with 14% of the world's regular Internet users. The Russians have embraced VoIP phone service more warmly than any other country, with 36% of their online community making VoIP phone calls. Turkey rated a close second with 32% using VoIP phone service, followed by India at 25%. In Brazil, only 4% of Internet users could tear themselves away from World Cup preparations to use VoIP phone service.