February 22, 2001

Consumer-oriented portals in Latin America are experiencing a significant shakeout. Driving this shakeup is the failure of portals to meet consumer demands for communications, content, and ecommerce features and consequently attract and retain loyal Internet users. According to IDC's recent study, Latin America's Consumer Portals: Identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Similarities, and Differences, local portals offer only 51% of the ecommerce features evaluated, while regional portals offer only 66% of these features.

Regional portals are devising strategies to gain local market share, while local players plan to maintain and increase their current share. "The success of these strategies will depend on how these portals meet consumer demands for communications, content, and ecommerce features," said Jennifer Cordero, senior analyst for IDC Latin America's eCommerce program. According to the IDC report, local portals offer only 60% of the communications features assessed, and regional portals offer only 66%. Both local and regional portals offer extensive content in the arts and entertainment and news categories, but neither local nor regional portals offer comprehensive business and financial content. For example, only 17% of the local portals offer the online banking feature, while only 25% of the regional portals offer this feature.

IDC's report also demonstrates the provision of ecommerce features needs to be improved at the local and regional levels. Only 61% of the local portals provided consumers with online payment processing capabilities, while 75% of the regional portals provided this feature. The growth of ecommerce in the region will depend on the ability of the Latin American Web user to become a Web buyer. Portals play an important role in making this happen by providing Web users with the necessary tools, that is, educating the Web user. However, neither local nor regional portals are fulfilling this role. Local portals offer consumers only 36% of the shopping assistance features included in this study, while regional portals offer only 50%. For consumer-oriented portals to diversify their revenues, which are still very dependent on advertising, IDC believes they will have to review their existing ecommerce strategies.

IDC's report Latin America's Consumer Portals: Identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Similarities, and Differences assesses current strategies in the consumer-oriented portal business in Latin America, focusing on communications, content, and ecommerce features. This report compares some of the most popular local and regional consumer-oriented portals and analyzes the role that these portals play in fostering consumer ecommerce in the region. A total of 26 portals are included in this study. There are three portals per country in the top six Latin America markets, as defined by IDC's Latin America in-country analysts. One of the portals per country is directly related to a free Internet service provider. In addition, IDC includes eight leading regional players - America Online Latin America, El Sitio, StarMedia, Terra, Tutopia, Universo Online, Yahoo, and Yupi.

For more information at http://www.idc.com.

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