How tech are the Czech’s? Coming from the so called “first-world,” it’s easy to get lost in your own problems and seeing people glued to their iPads, phones, laptops, or Kindle’s is a common occurrence in most of America, especially in New York City. It’s not too different in Prague. Unlike NYC the majority of people are not looking into a screen, but the technologically savvy younger generation is extremely present in the beautiful streets of old Praha.
People reading their newspapers, checking their mail, playing a quick game, chatting with friends, all during their morning commute…on their mobile devices. This is common in the place that coined the phrase, “in a New York minute.” However, a Czech minute is much slower, and people seem to enjoy their commute. It’s a time where Czech’s are quiet and they keep to themselves, very few are bothered with much more distractions. They enjoy the ride. But more and more, I’ve been seeing young people attached to their devices just as much as us New Yorkers are.
I came across an article written last year by Paul Ratner on expats.cz that explores “how the Czechs view technology and respond to global trends.” His research finds that when compared to the rest of Europe and the U.S., the Czech Republic “are somewhere in the middle of the pack, and have some way to go to be true tech pioneers.” The article focuses on the use of smartphones, which is where most people do a majority of their online activity since there’s an app for literally every aspect of your daily life.
Ratner claims that the countries smartphone usage is growing “due to the spread of the fast 3G network rolled out by Telefónica O2 in 2011, which is accessible to about 73% of the country’s population, and Vodafone’s 3G network, which is up to 66% coverage and growing.”
Even though the Czech people are known for being very traditional, the younger generation prides itself on being up-to-date on the ever changing socially connected world. Like Americans, “the main use Czechs get out of their smartphones is emailing and browsing the net, then catching up on social networks.” However, unlimited plans here are still quite expensive and “the days of video chatting via phones haven’t quite arrived.”
It seems that electronics are very expensive in this country, and the local Czech’s that I’ve met said they usually travel outside the country to buy them, like the neighboring city, Dresden. iPhones are becoming more affordable in the U.S., but they are still quite expensive here and out of smartphone users in the Czech Republic, they make up only “about 9% of the market,” whereas Android users make up about 18%. “Android-running HTC Wildfire S and Samsung Galaxy phones were 3 of the top 5 Vodafone phones sold during Xmas 2011,” especially since phones like Samsung are available to Czech’s at the same time as the rest of the world and they are one of the cheaper brands. However, “the latest US-made phones like iPhones take some time (usually a few weeks but could be longer) to make it to the Czech market.” The reason Ratner believes it might take longer is because the software needs to be localized, i.e. translated into Czech.
It seems as if Czech’s are catching up. More than half of Czech Internet users are on Facebook, but “only 61% of the country’s households have internet access (according to the Czech Statistical Office – http://www.czso.cz/eng/redakce.nsf/i/about_czso).” If more people had Internet access at home, I believe there would be more Czech’s on Facebook and other social media websites.
For more information: http://www.intomobile.com/2011/11/05/czech-o2-drops-iphone-its-portfolio/