Fascinating discussion by Jakob Nielsen on One Billion Internet Users of the growth of the Web and the implications of having passed the billionth user.
The Internet is growing at an annualized rate of 18% and now has one billion users. A second billion users will follow in the next ten years, bringing a dramatic change in worldwide usability needs.
Nielsen's report is worth reading in full, but a few Timbits:
* 36% of Internet users are now in Asia and 24% are in Europe.
* Only 23% of users are in North America.
* It took 36 years for the Internet to get its first billion users. The second billion will probably be added by 2015; most of these new users will be in Asia. The third billion will be harder, and might not be reached until 2040.
* By 2015, Americans will be less than 15% of Internet users and will likely account for about one-third its value (Americans typically spend more than other users). The fact that two-thirds of Internet revenues will come from other countries highlights the growing importance of international usability.
* U.S. market share and Silicon Valley buzz will become less important than international use as the metric for judging the potential of companies and technologies.
* As China and India add another billion Internet users, the need for usability in these two markets will explode.
* Putting aside the details of how to make the multi-billion-user Web work, the very fact that it's realistic to expect a second billion users points to interactive media's compelling value. People all over the world are experiencing unprecedented levels of empowerment: being able to do things is why the Web has grown so fast, and will continue to grow for years to come.