Austria

Interview with Christian Rupp

“Austria has a rich potential of e-content”

How would you define e-content in your country, in terms of its reach and practical application?

The first stage of the production of content – whether it is digitised or not – is based on creative human output. The Condrinet report (1998: G-2) defines content firms as “Businesses involved in the production, manipulation, or distribution of text, audio, images or video”. The core of the digital content industries can be described as the convergence of the traditional media sector, e-publishing and digital audio-visual industries. While the former produce digitised text, data and images, the latter focus on digitised television, voice and video sequence. In broadening the view from digitisation to interactivity and integration as key elements for successful innovations in content, we have to take multimedia industries into account. Since 2004, special targets were set for the creative (www.creativwirtschaft.at) and innovative industries (www.innovatives-oesterreich.at).

” The most widely used method of Internet connection was still the dial-up telephone line”


What is the current status of eContent in your country? Please also elaborate the ICT situation in terms of infrastructure, penetration, acceptance and policies.

More than 21,000 enterprises function in the field of ICT in Austria. At the beginning of 2004, 94% Austrian enterprises with more than nine employees were using the Internet. While all large enterprises and 99% of medium-sized enterprises use the Internet, the corresponding figure for small enterprises with 10 to 49 employees is 93%.

59% of Austrian enterprises with Internet access have a broadband connection. 91% of large enterprises, 80% of all medium-sized enterprises and 53% of all small enterprises access the Internet via a broadband connection. 49% of all enterprises with Internet access use an ISDN connection for this purpose.

79% of enterprises surveyed use bank and financial services on the Internet. 74% of enterprises use e-government services. 68% stated that they used these services to download forms and 53% stated that they obtained information from public websites via the Internet. 40% of enterprises have already used the Internet for full electronic case handling.

In January 2004, 71% of all enterprises had their own website on the Internet. The highest proportion of enterprises with a website (94%) is found in the “hotels and other accommodation” branch.

For the year 2001, the entire e-Commerce-sales (thus sales via internet and/or electronic data interchange [EDI]) of the Austrian enterprises estimated by Statistic Austria (http://www.statistik.at) at 22.8 billion Euro. Those are approximately 7% of the entire conversions, which corresponds to an enormous increase in relation to the previous year (reference value 2000: 2.5%).

The special goods production carries the lion’s share of the e-Commerce-sales with 10.4 billion Euros.

In 72% of all households, at least one member had a mobile phone. 20% of all households had an Internet-enabled mobile phone.

Around 1.4 million households (40% of all households) had Internet access in the second quarter of 2004. 36% of all households with Internet access, around 490,000 households, used a broadband connection. The most widely used method of Internet connection was still the dial-up telephone line (analogue modem, ISDN). 57% of all households used this method to access the Internet.

“Austria has a rich potential of e-content in museums, archives, universities and research actvities as well as the public and private sector firms”


Internet banking is becoming an even more attractive option for Internet users. While only 19% and 31% of Internet users used this banking service in 2002 and 2003 respectively, the corresponding figure this year was 35%. 34% of all Internet users have already shopped on the Internet.

E-government services were also used: nearly 60% of all Internet users have obtained information from the websites of public bodies and more than 50% stated that they had downloaded forms from public sites. 43% have already completed their e-government transactions online without any paperwork.

Which area of e-Content (e-health/e-biz/e-culture/e-gov./e-entertainment/e-learning/e-science/e-inclusion) is most developed in your country?

Austria has a rich potential of e-content in museums, archives, universities and research activities as well as the public and private sector firms. However, a lot of it is yet to be made available in digital format.

Which sector (Business, Private Sector, Government or civil society?) in your country is more aggressive in developing e-content?

Thanks to the efforts of public institutions and the new European directive on public sector information, we have all the information we will ever need in this sector. The private sector in Austria was a pioneer of sorts and we were among the first European countries to have high quality online news services related to land and commercial registration as well as legal information.

What are the major bottlenecks on the path of e-content development in your country?

One of the big challenges for the Austria-based firms is the small home-market for the industry. Despite this, Austrian companies have gained international recognition in certain econtent fields like games, education and e-learning, services based on public sector information, culture and entertainment (museums, music, and history), tourism, and geographical information. The Austrian publishers of newspapers and news agencies have been early movers in Europe and are renowned the world over for their innovativeness and versatality.

The size of the Austrian private equity industry is very small but after years of stagnation, there

” In the coming years, the use of Internet will continue to grow”


is a growing interest in private equity investment – an interest shared by industrial, financial and government sectors. In order to stimulate development, the Austrian government has put in place a new scheme that uses federal guarantees.

In most countries, e-content development is significantly dependent on ICT infrastructure and ICT facilities. But, in some, ICT has become part of daily life and e-content development is primarily subjected to the initiatives of an individual/organisation/government, etc. In developing and under developed countries, e-content development is largely dependent on ICT infrastructure. What is the situation in your country?

In the coming years, the use of Internet will continue to grow. IT expenditure will grow too, but in most countries at a much slower rate than the Internet. For each European Union member state, it will be important to provide sufficient capital with a strong focus on venture capital in order to meet the growing demand for digital content. At the moment, compared to other countries, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Austria and Greece need to improve the balance between the supply of capital and demand for digital content. As long as IT expenditure and Internet use increase, the demand for digital content will grow. Until that point, venture capital especially with regard to communications and computer-related sectors needs to grow accordingly.

The last two years has seen the emergence of a new breed of entrepreneurs, highly proficient networkers, who believe in teamwork and are willing to share gains in return for additional expertise. This might well be the outcome of the Internet culture of open systems and participation.

The other office culture spawned by the Internet is that of the “incubators.” These are city-based offices where small firms are clustered together to share common resources. Physically, they resemble the long proven concept of the “managed workshop” where start-ups alleviate some costs through sharing of physical resources. However, the philosophy behind the incubators is somewhat different. Not only are the tenant firms sharing physical resources, they are also expected to exchange ideas and skills. By their very nature, they cater exclusively to the IT, computer and Internet firms.

What is the future of e-Content development in your country? As a country expert, what are the five most important pillars of e-content development, also true for your country?

Within the context of European development, the rules of accessing and exploiting public sector information will have to be defined in a way that gives stability to all participants.

In the management of digital rights, not only will the laws have to be balanced, but also, on a pragmatic level, rights and licences will have to be efficiently and promptly cleared. The conditions for micro-payments will have to be improved.

Attention will also have to be drawn to revenue sharing models being used by different kinds of network-operators. Such sharing should ultimately lead to innovative approaches and developments.

To sum up, Austria has an excellent future in e-content. Not only is the Internet- and mobile-penetration outstandingly high, so is the quality of networks both cable and wireless. There is great potential for cross media services in content-applications.

Which is the most preferred medium for e-content development? Print, TV, Internet, Radio, Mobile/Wireless? Or a combination of these?

The World Wide Web is the preferred medium. But the movement is from multimedia productions to mobile applications and digital TV projects.

How do you recognise the best e-content practices in your country?

Since 1997, The “Multimedia & eBusiness Stateprize” has become the national e-content award. More than 200 nominations are evaluated by international jurors. At these events, multimedia products and solutions are also showcased. There is also an Innovation prize with special emphasis on prototypes, pilot projects, products, and solutions not published in the market. The Students Prize aims to encourage young effort. In 2003 and 2005, the Austrian Stateprize served as the national pre-selection for the World Summit Award.

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