European and North American markets losing ground
If the health of Europe’s digital markets has been improving over the past several years, their growth rate is still below what we are seeing in the rest of the world. Their contribution to the economy as a whole has been decreasing steadily, even if less dramatically than in the early 2010s, but the markets of “Greater Europe” (i.e. which, in our configuration, extends to Russia and Turkey) together represent only barely a quarter of the world total. We should no doubt mention that North American markets have also been losing ground but, at more than 37% of the world total, they still enjoy a comfortable lead, not least as the region accounts for less than 5% of the global population.
The forced march of progress in Asia
At the other end of the spectrum we have Asian markets which, when we consider that they are home to half of the planet’s population, are not really that advanced. Every indicator, and particularly in ownership, needs to be set against the size of the region. But this impact still gives us some idea of the power of a continent that is engaged full bore in the digital race, not only to satisfy its own needs, but also to export its products to the rest of the world. This is all the more important since, as we analyse elsewhere (see notably the section in Chapter VI on Digital China) the region’s new economies are no longer (or no longer simply) the champions of cheap labour, but are also moving quickly up the quality scale and rivalling the West in terms of standards. There is, then, no doubt that not only will the Asian market continue to represent an increasingly large share of the global market, but its influence on other regions will also grow.
Uncertainties in Latin America and in Africa/the Middle East
A more nuanced understanding needs to be brought to the two remaining regions. For Latin America, whereas ownership and adoption levels are already relatively high, the still fluctuating economic and political situations – as evidenced in a chronic state of crisis, and hyperinflation in certain countries – is creating turbulence in the markets. In Africa/the Middle East, meanwhile, there is still a long way to go before local needs are fully met (especially in Sub-Saharan Africa). Beyond just the issue of financing, governance remains a key issue.