There are now 3 billion Internet users worldwide
The world wide web as we know it is approximately 25 years old, but the exact date depends on when you consider the web as being first conceived. It was 26 years ago in March that Tim Berners-Lee shared his web proposal at CERN, which is considered the foundation for the web.
The Internet has changed beyond recognition in the last 25 years. The current state of the web is highlighted in an extensive new report by Singapore-based social marketing website We Are Social, which has compiled an unprecedented amount of data showing how people are accessing the Internet and how it is constantly evolving.
In this article we reveal just some of the data, but you can find hundreds more statistics (also broken down per country) on the We Are Social website.
Half a billion new users got connected to the web in 2014, an increase of 20% bringing the total number of web surfers to 3 billion worldwide.
At the start of 2014, just 35 % of the world had access to the internet – but this figure increased to 42% in January 2015. In Western Europe and the U.S., more than 80 percent of the population have access to the Internet, but in East Asia, South America and Eastern Europe, connectivity is between 50 and 60%. South Asia comes in last position with just 19%.
As the clock struck midnight this January, it was evident the mobile Internet has grown enormously. In terms of the total web pages services to mobile devices, the global average is now 33% of all pages. The average is blow away by Internet users in Nigeria, who top the league at 76% followed by India at 72%:
The number of active 3G and 4G connections (i.e. mobile broadband) for the total population has also risen dramatically. In the UK, the percentage of mobile broadband stands at 89%, but the figure is exceeded by Hong Kong (12%), Japan (118%) and many more.
Surprisingly, India has one of the lowest percentages – a measly 8% of the population has an active mobile broadband connection:
Today, the average monthly mobile data per users has ballooned to 900 MB, with nearly 3,000 Petabytes (millions of Gigabytes) of data sent over the mobile web per month in Q3 2014:
Time spent online
Going into 2015, more people are spending time on the web. Just ten years ago, the average user of the Internet spent less than 2 hours every day online, but today that stands at almost 4.5 hours every day.
The regional differences are revealing too. People in South East Asia spend on average 6 hours each day online, whereas Americans spend around 5 hours online each day. Japan comes in last with 3 hours each day, but South Korean web users (where Internet speeds are incredibly fast) also spend just 3.5 hours a day online.
The Internet is getting faster
The Internet is not only reaching more people in the world, but is also predictably getting faster. The average worldwide speed in 2013 was just 3.8 Mbps, but today it's increased to 4.5 Mbps.
South Korea leads the average net speed ranking with an incredible 25.3 Mbps, followed by Hong Kong with 16.3%. The only other countries with average Internet speeds over 10 Mbps are Japan, Singapore, the USA, the UK and Canada. Once again, India comes in last place with just 2 Mbps.
Internet use increasingly mobile
The following charts mainly cover the UK, but you can find all the global and per-country details on the We Are Social website.
In the UK, 27% of web pages were served to mobile devices (an 18% rise) and 15% to tablets (an even larger rise of 31%, despite a slowdown in tablet sales). It was the desktop and laptop PC category that lost the most, falling 12% to 58% of web pages served. Combining mobile and tablet page views of 42%, it seems likely such devices will dominate web usage in a couple of years.
More mobile phones than ever
In the UK, there are now almost 75 million mobile subscriptions (117% of the population), split 41%/59% between pre-paid and post-paid.
Having seen the start of 4G roll-outs in the UK, the vast proportion of mobiles are now connected to 3G or 4G networks, with just 26% on 2G-only.
The number of unique mobile users exceeded 50% of the world's population as of September 2014, with a projected yearly growth of more than 5 percent. This means another 200 million new mobile users in the next year.
Smartphones now account for the vast majority of mobile use at 38% of the world's active mobile connections. And 40% of the world's mobile connections are considered ‘broadband’ enabled with access to a 3G or better network. In this regard, the UK is doing fairly well compared to the global picture.
The UK leads the world in e-commerice activities, with two-thirds of the population having bought something online in the past month using a PC. Germany and South Korea rounded out the number two and three positions with 64% and 62% respectively, while America came in fourth.
Unfortunately, even though South East Asian countries are at the front of the pack when it comes to mobile use, many are lagging behind in terms of e-commerce, partly due to the lack of high speed Internet connections and poor online shopping experiences.
Mobile shopping is on an upward trajectory worldwide, with South Korean and Chinese consumers using their phones to shop a third of the time. In Kenya, mobiles are used extensively to buy goods and trade using the popular mPesa service, as well as pay taxes and arrange finance.
Social media and chat in the UK
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can help us to be more social, but they can also be a source of constant interruption. Besides being an avenue to explore our likes and interests, they have become an important marketing tool for anyone that wants to drive traffic to their web presence.
In the UK there are now 38 million active social media accounts, which represents 59% of the population. Mobile is the most important method we use such services, with 32 million social media accounts being accessed on a mobile device:
Mobile social media in the UK is dwarfed by East Asia, where there are 561 million active accounts – 35% of the total population:
It's no surprise that Facebook is the top social media platform in the UK, with Facebook Messenger in second place. In 2014, Facebook essentially forced its mobile users to use Messenger rather than Facebook itself to send messages. The second most popular chat app is WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook:
The We Are Social report includes such a plethora of statistics regarding the state of the Internet that it was impossible to include everything in this article. We encourage you to view their report for a fuller view of how the world's population surfs the web.
As the Internet grows and more people get online using smartphones and tablets, there's never been a more exciting time to be in the mobile industry.