According to the International Telecommunication Union[i] and CIA World Factbook[ii] the number of internet users is Armenia in 2005 was 150,000, and the number of Internet hosts in Armenia, according to 2006 figures, was 8,163. It is important to state, that continuous growth is observed in the Armenian IT sector. According to research by the Enterprise Incubator Foundation[iii], Armenian IT industry has been growing at 30% CAGR from 1998 to 2006. If this trend continuous further, the industry will reach around $250 million in total revenues by 2010. Even considering a more pessimistic scenario, the industry revenue will reach 150 mln. USD in 2011. Such rapid growth rates in the IT sector industry will inevitably result in growing internet access and enhanced internet user-base.
More importantly relatively new developments in the sector, including the decision by the Armenian Public Services Regulatory Commission to restrict[iv] the ArmenTel monopoly on Internet services in Armenia (which presupposes changes to license #60 of ArmenTel CJSC), widespread provision of GPRS and WAP internet services by both VivaCell and Armentel Mobile operators in Armenia, the potential internet user-base is bound to grow in Armenia over the next two years in a progressive manner.
Although a very small percentage of these 150,000 users turns to internet as their prime source of information (this can be estimated at 7%, as daily turnout of news website visitors is at 12,000 according to the Circle.am rating engine), the online media as a whole have a huge potential readership, which is at least twice bigger then the circulation of the biggest printed Armenian daily (most print newspapers have an average print run of 1000-2500 copies, while the biggest daily newspapers like: Aravot, Haykakan Zhamanak print a little more then 5000 copies daily).
Looking at the news and analyses available in Armenia today, website statistics, the AM directory[v] lists 903 Armenian websites in total, of which 57 are News and Media related sites. Armenian web resources rating system Circle.am[vi] lists 604 Armenian websites, of which 37 are News and Media related.
On this regard it is important to look at what is on offer today for a news consumer on the Armenian internet. The current trends of internet news products in Armenia today can be classified as follows:
- Fast news – mostly informative news, with very few serious analyses and often rather low quality content, represented by sites like A1plus.am, Lragir.am, Panarmenian.net, Panorama.am and Armenian Newsagency websites: Armenpress, Arminfo, Noyan Tapan.
- Serious analyses – less newsworthy, but more serious and with greater potential to keep the reader on the site and avoid high bounce rate (users that stay on the site less then a minute), in other words, appealing to more serious news consumer. This trend is represented by Hetq online, ArmeniaNow.com and Echannel.am.
- Websites with limited news content but featuring a number of interactivity technologies, including chats, forums, blogs – Online Armenia has been leading the rating of all Armenian websites for the last couple of months and even on the Election Day – May 12 was far ahead (18,700-20,637 unique users, 114,642 pageviews[vii]) of A1plus (10,871-8,818 unique users, 39,254 pageviews[viii]) which claims to be the prime news source in Armenia. Other examples of websites of this type are: Yerevan.ru, Hayastan.com, Openarmenia.am Forum, as well as a number of blogs, including: Oneworld Multimedia blog, Kornelij Glas blog and others.
Back in January I had published some of the Armenian media links I use on a regular bases, which has been slightly expanded today, I will publish it again here with some updates (please let me know if I’m missing anything important), along with a question: so which one is the best news resource in Armenia?
Observer’s Armenian Media Bookmarks