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Vicky Nolan
 

The IGN Data Hub – Feb 28, 2001

28 February 2001

Online Predictors Frequently Correct
All of those online "predict it" sites might just be a little more accurate than previously believed. These sites tend to attract players who use play money to bet upon the outcome of various real life activities, and their predictions tend to be correct more often than not, according to a study by NEC Research Institute.

The NEC study based their findings upon results shown on sites like Hollywood Stock Exchange (www.hsx.com), where punters use play-money to bet on who will win an Oscar, and Foresight Exchange (www.ideosphere.com), which offers betting for fun on unresolved questions of scientific and societal interest.

"One of the benefits of markets is their ability to combine information from various sources and make that information available to the public via prices. While for most purposes game markets cannot replace real markets, in terms of combining information and making predictions, game markets can be similarly valuable," said Dr. David Pennock, the study's lead author. "Another advantage of game markets is that they're relatively easy to set up, especially on the Web, without worrying about all the regulatory and legal hurdles of establishing a real market."

He added, "Prices of securities can be thought of as the market's assessment of the probabilities of the corresponding events." The scientists found that past prices did accurately forecast true outcome frequencies. For example, of all securities priced around 0.2, roughly one in five actually did come true.

They found similar accuracy in last year's Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy awards markets on HSX. For example, of all the nominees priced at around $10 (play money) prior to award announcement, roughly twice as many eventually won than among $5 (play money) nominees, and similarly for other price ranges. The study also shows that prices of HSX "movie stocks" serve as good predictors for actual box office results.

"Although no real money is changing hands, it seem as if players care enough about their portfolios to make reasonably informed decisions," Pennock added. "As a result, the game markets behave in some ways like real markets, showing signs of efficiency and predictive accuracy."

Bingo Boosts Brain Power?
Bingo, long considered a game for blue-haired old ladies, may help its players boost their mental facilities. A Southampton University researcher is examining whether bingo playing has long-term benefits. Three million people in the U.K. play bingo each year, according to a BBC news article, with nine out of ten players aged 70 or older.

Players need quick eyes and good memory to play bingo, and many even engage in other activities while playing bingo, such as knitting, which adds extra challenge to the game. "Age-related decline in mental abilities may be partly due to lack of use," the researcher said. "Mental decline is inevitable, just like physical decline. However, just as keeping physically active helps ward off the signs of physiologically aging, it may be that keeping mentally active helps to maintain metal alertness." The study will attempt to determine how many games are necessary to play for keeping the players' minds alert.

Internet Usage Tidbits
A number of recent studies have been released offering a glimpse into Internet usage worldwide. This week, Data Hub brings information about users with alternative lifestyles, getting online in Latin America, and the Asian connection.

A joint study from Witeck-Combs Communications and Harris Interactive shows climbing online and e-commerce activity by Internet users who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

Among the study's findings, it was discovered that over one-quarter of LGBT respondents conducted their banking transactions online in the last three months, as compared with 21 percent of non-gay web users. Similarly, a seven-percent gap exists between LGBT and non-gay respondents who took part in online auctions over the past three months (26 percent vs. 19 percent respectively). LGBT respondents are also slightly more likely to make online purchases for goods and services than their non-gay counterparts (63 percent vs. 59 percent).

"We have long observed gay affinity for the Web, and the numbers keep soaring," noted a spokesperson. "The newest findings validate the power of the Internet to promote gay consumer spending and to transform the potential for e-commerce. The LGBT market appears to signal a bellwether – enabling gay households to find welcome, safety, convenience and service online."

According to eLatin America Report, a new study from eMarketer, Mexico is second among all Latin American nations online with Internet users totaling 1.5 million. Hampering online growth there, however, is poverty and infrastructure development constraints within the technology sector.

By 2004, there should be 6.4 million Mexicans surfing the Web, but the Internet penetration rate is doomed to stay in single digits for the next several years, the study showed. Last year's rate of 2.2 percent will rise to 8.6 percent by 2004, while Mexico's share of the region's Internet market will remain unchanged through 2004, hovering around 15 percent.

Mexico is one of three countries, along with Brazil and Argentina, which account for approximately 65 percent of the region's 9.9 million Internet users. Brazil claims 3.9 million Web users, Mexico has 1.5 million and Argentina has 1 million users online.

In a separate report from eMarketer, analysts have determined that the number of active Internet users in the Asian-Pacific region will increase dramatically, until they account for 27 percent of the world's total online population by 2004. Last year there were 49 million users there, while that number is likely to reach 173 million by 2004.

The report shows Japanese Internet users currently account for more than 36 percent of the total Asian Internet population, although this high percentage will quickly dissipate as Internet development in China continues to gain strength. By the end of 2004, eMarketer estimates that China's Internet users will account for 17.4 percent of Asia's total Internet population, while Japan's user base will shrink to 18.5 percent.

In addition, the region's e-commerce revenues have grown dramatically over the past year with revenues reaching $39.4 billion by the close of 2000. eMarketer estimates revenues will continue to climb to more than $338 billion by the end of 2004.

"Even though total Asian e-commerce revenues will increase substantially over the next few years," a spokesperson explained, "the region as a whole still accounts for only a fraction of the total revenues on a worldwide basis." eMarketer expects total Asian e-commerce, as a world percentage, to peak at 14 percent by 2001, and eventually shrink to 10.6 percent by the end of 2004.

Innovative Partnerships Key To Future Growth
A recent survey by Ernst & Young among attendees at the recent Technology Partnering Conference showed that partnering is a powerful business strategy in the current economic environment, and will only increase in importance because of the rapidly changing marketplace, a finding with which more than half of all attendees surveyed concurred. Another 32 percent called today's partnerships "very different" from those formed five years ago, while 10 percent reported such relationships unchanged. Another 44 percent of respondents related that pursuing partnership relationships was a key driver to gaining new distribution channels.

"As the technology, communications and entertainment industries converge, software development serves as a critical link in creating new products and services for business and home," explained an Ernst & Young spokesperson. "Strategic partnerships provide emerging and established companies with a way to keep pace with fast-changing technologies, expanding global market opportunities and increasingly sophisticated consumer demands.

"This survey confirms that partnerships are a key success factor in driving the adoption of new technologies, because no company, large or small, can afford to go at it alone."

The IGN Data Hub – Feb 28, 2001 is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Vicky Nolan
Vicky Nolan