The Internet is largely North American. Around seven out of every ten people in North America use the Internet; yet in Africa it’s only three people in every 100. Even in Europe only four out of every ten people are regular Internet users. Of the world as a whole, only one in seven people use the Internet in any way at all. World Internet Usage statistics make interesting reading, but combined with a new report from the EU they show that major change is on the way.
The EU report claims that the rising availability and reduced costs of broadband are beginning to make the Internet available to all – including poverty struck places of the world such as Africa. In Europe broadband access costs just 1% of income, yet even in Africa it is only 10% of income. Prices inevitably fall in commodity marketplaces like broadband access, so even that 10% is going to come down.
In the past six years Internet usage in Africa has soared by 700% yet it has only grown in North America by 115%. The rest of the world is fast catching up on the USA and with it will come changes, unpredictable but probably significant changes that will affect Internet users around the world. For instance, the way of doing business in Africa and Asia is markedly different to the way business is done in North America or Europe. When the bulk of Internet users are African and Asian – in the not too distant future – that will affect anyone who has an online business. Plus those changes will filter down into offline businesses and our societies in general.
Clearly we can never be sure what the future will hold; but you can make a safe bet that the rapid globalisation of Internet usage will make it interesting.