From being the "b" in the BRIC countries to news that Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil is taking an ever-larger role on the world stage. And with over 40% of its 194 million people online, it also has more internet users than Germany, Russia or Indonesia. To learn more about the Web in Brazil, we spoke with Victor Morgado Horta Pencak, Opera's local Marketing & Community Coordinator.
How do most people get online in Brazil?
The government has been trying to introduce more of the population to the internet, so they have been doing a variety of things to make it more affordable for people. There are domestically manufactured computers which are cheap, for example, and the government is also subsidizing broadband so you can get 1 mb for the equivalent of $10 US. In favelas, people sometimes pool their money to buy broadband service and a router, and set up a wireless network for their entire neighborhood. Mobile internet is also getting very popular. The service providers are offering good deals and there are also a lot of cheap Android phones. One result of this is that a lot of people have multiple phones with different service providers so they can take advantage of as many promotions as possible.
What about social media?
Orkut started out big in Brazil but over time it lost ground to other social networks. These days Brazil is the number-2 country on both Twitter and Facebook in terms of number of users, behind only the US in both cases. Twitter is especially popular with young people.
Apart from the internet, what kind of entertainment do people like?
There are reality shows on TV like Big Brother, but the telenovelas are still the most popular shows on television. The telenovelas also get people talking about difficult subjects such as drug use, gay marriage etc, which sometimes causes a shift in public opinion on the issue. Otherwise, Brazilians by nature are easy-going people. They are happy with the beach, football and beer!
How do you think Brazil can continue its success?
Brazil is growing very fast, but people outside the country sometimes see this more than Brazilians themselves. There has been more international investment in Brazilian internet startups lately, for example. With more accountability in the government and better support for small businesses I think that the economic growth can benefit everyone.