Country Snapshot: Spain

Marc Jarrett
Since Spain is my current home, I write this particular country snapshot outlining its Internet and telecoms characteristics with a degree of practical experience.

Specifically, I live in the middle of nowhere; on a vacation island called Tenerife off the northern coast of Africa, which is actually 1600km away from mainland Spain, but administered by it.

Upon arrival here five years ago, I had no other alternative than to approach the state incumbent Telefonica for my Internet connection, which never arrived.

After eight months of waiting, we moved to another part of the island where it was installed the next day; reflecting a trend that I have noticed: service here tends to be either top-notch, or miserable — alas often the latter.

About 25 million Spaniards have access to the Internet at this time; some 63 percent of its 40 million strong population — and the web therefore features in most households.

However, as I have learnt the hard way, most Spanish people do not speak English; and why should they? It stands to reason therefore that if you are to start making more money from Spain, you should start communicating with them in their native language.

Doing so will help convert not only traffic from Spain itself, but also from the 20 predominately Latin American countries that speak Spanish as their primary language, not to mention the vast Hispanic market within the U.S. itself. It is estimated that there are approximately 500 million Spanish speakers worldwide, making it the third most spoken language after English and Chinese.

Remember though that card penetration in most of these countries is still relatively poor, so phone billing is a prerequisite if you are to start making money from these emerging markets.

As for Spain proper, whilst card usage here is more commonplace, the Spanish like the anonymity and convenience of paying you via a device that practically all of them have access to — the phone.

Despite being a Catholic country, Spain retains an overall tolerance to porn and remains the headquarters of one of adult's best known hardcore brands: Private. Born in the same year that I was way back in 1965, their magazine acted as the catalyst for my subsequent lifelong appreciation of hardcore erotica, and is still available at Spanish newsstands to this day.

As for being online, Spain has caught up with the rest of Europe and the surge in Internet usage whilst being based here has been noticeable; with the local PC store often being the busiest in town.

As Spain enters into a period of pronounced economic uncertainty, more Spanish people will be staying at home this winter to entertain themselves by checking out your web offerings.

Thankfully, a picture really does say more than a thousand words, but if you want to convert a curious Spanish surfer into a paying one, remember to do so en Español.