One Billion Internet Users

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:For our readers outside British North America, the cultural reference to Timbits is explained here in the Wikipedia, which for once is reliable. There are even pictures of this odd phenomenon. Since this is after all a site about legal research, let me report that it does not appear that any Canadian court has taken judicial notice of Timbits, although the item is mentioned in R. v. Chan, 2005 ABQB 615 (CanLII).

* 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.


  1. To put this into context, I was curious to know how many people are currently on our planet. From the “World Population” entry on Wikipedia:

    “According to estimates published by the United States Census Bureau, the world population in June 2005 was ~6,450,000,000. In line with population projections, this figure continues to grow at rates that are unprecedented prior to the 20th century. Approximately one fifth of all humans in the last six thousand years are currently alive. By some estimates, there are now one billion (thousand million) young people in the world between the ages of 15 and 24.”

    And some additional info from the same page:

    “The following table shows when each billion milestone was met:

    1 billion reached in 1802.
    2 billion reached in 1927.
    3 billion reached in 1961.
    4 billion reached in 1974.
    5 billion reached in 1987.
    6 billion reached in 1999.

    From the figures above, the world’s population has tripled in 72 years, and doubled in 38 years up to the year of 1999.”

    So, the Internet still has 4 1/2 billion people to reach, and possibly a billion additional people in only a few years. Wow. Time to start learning to blog in a few more languages….

  2. Yes Connie, but how many of them even know about Timbits, let alone having eaten them.

  3. Once this Web thing gets stale, I’m sure the world will catch on to Timbits next. I can see you are a bit of a Timbitvangelist. I wonder how easy it would be to randomly bestow Timbits to a few of those people?