REPORT CARD: Australia's Progress As A Digital Nation Against The Rest Of The World

The World Record Ice Bucket Challenge at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images

EY, the big accountancy and consulting firm, has just released the findings of its inaugural Digital Australia: State of the Nation 2014 report which surveyed 1,500 consumers and 167 of Australia’s digital opinion leaders.

The research explores views about Australia’s digital status compared to its global competitors, the best and worst sectors online, smartphone and tablet use, and behaviour and social media.

Here are the key findings:


  • Australia is ranked just 18th in developed nations for network readiness by the World Economic Forum. However, when it comes to affordability for digital access, Australia’s ranking plummets to 49th in the world.
  • Australia is still outside the top 20 when considering the business and innovation environment, coming in at number 21 globally.


  • Australia has the world’s seventh-highest internet penetration at 81%.
  • More than one-third of Australians download movies or TV shows from the Internet.


  • In 2014, Australians are more likely to use a smartphone than a laptop, and more likely to use a laptop than a desktop.
  • Apple was the number one smartphone brand for people in households with an annual income of more than $120,000. But only 37% of people with an annual household income under $60,000 chose Apple.
  • Apple retains a lead in tablets. However, tablet use is less widespread than smartphone use, currently at about half the Australian population.
  • 44% of smartphone users only use between one to five apps regularly (other than phone, messages and mail apps).
  • 37% of people agree that they struggle to keep up with the rapid increase in digital device capabilities.
  • 67% of 18-24 year olds admit to using their phone in the toilet. This falls to 18% among 55 to 64 year olds and just 9% among 65 to 69 year olds.
  • A fifth of Australians with smartphones and tablets admit they spend more time on their device than talking with their partner or friends. NSW respondents were significantly more likely to agree that their social lives would be non-existent without a smartphone or tablet (23% versus 16% for the rest of Australia).
  • Smartphones are the number one device for accessing social media, followed closely by laptops. This represents a clear distinction between smartphones and laptops / desktop computers from other devices which are used more for web browsing, online banking and work purposes.


  • On average, 18% of smartphone usage occurs at work, with 77% occurring at home.
  • Of those who go online for work or business purposes, 43% do so on their smartphone.
  • 93% of Australians personally own their smartphone, and just 7% have it supplied by their employer.
  • 25% of regional Australians said smartphones and tablets made them more productive at work, compared to 36% of metropolitan residents.
  • Six in 10 admit they check social media at work and 74% say they use digital devices for personal tasks at work.


  • Facebook remains the number one social media site for Australians.
  • 85% of Australians have used Facebook and 62% access it daily. Research suggests Australians spend eight hours on Facebook per month, far more than more popular websites like Google.
  • Nearly two-thirds of people are using Facebook the same amount or more often, 15% have never used it, and 19% have quit or are using it less often.
  • 68% of women use Facebook daily, compared to 57% of men.
  • Twitter is less popular among Australians surveyed but has greater growth potential. More users have cut their usage or quit than are using it more frequently. 6% are using more frequently, 12% are using about the same amount or more often, 9% are using it less frequently or have stopped, while 64% weren’t using it 12 months ago or had never heard of it.
  • Professional social network LinkedIn exhibits similar but less patronage. 9% use it more frequently, 16% use it about the same amount, 10% less frequently, 6% have stopped using it while 58% weren’t using it 12 months ago or had never heard of it.


  • Many consumers are worried about their privacy and security with 61% concerned about what digital behaviour organisations can access and 65% worried about their available personal information.
  • Concerns about online privacy and data security are strongest in the youngest (18-24) and oldest demographics (aged 65-69), while 25-34 year olds are the least worried about who accesses their information.


  • Consumers aged 18-39 are most likely to purchase online, and men are 2% more likely to buy online than women (79% versus 77%).
  • 53% of digital opinion leaders believe consumers prefer to buy online than in a physical store while only 35% of consumers would choose online over other ways of shopping.


  • Only 33% of Australians want the government to take an active role in monitoring online activity, while only 12% of the digital opinion leaders surveyed agree. 33% of consumers oppose government becoming involved and the vast majority of digital opinion leaders (69%) are against it.
  • Australians are fans of the NBN. Far more agree than disagree that it will ensure Australia has a world class digital economy.
  • More than 80% of digital opinion leaders and 61% of consumers support the NBN, While only 9% of digital opinion leaders and 6% of consumers oppose the NBN.
  • Of the consumers who have been connected to the NBN, 89% say it meets or exceeds their expectations. However, 23% of Australians report being unaware if the NBN was available in their area.

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