Internet Exceeds 4 Bn-Users, But 50 pc Still Offline
The number of Internet users increased 7 percent in the last 12 months to hit over 4 billion mark, putting more than half the global population online, according to a global study, which noted that 80 percent of the world’s Internet users are active on social media. While it is interesting to note that connectivity is already a way of life for most, earlier reports found that it is still appalling is that more than half the world’s population does not use the internet, with prohibitive broadband costs keeping billions offline.
The latest report jointly released by social platform Hootsuite and We Are Social, a socially-led creative agency that examined internet usage and social media trends around the world across 239 countries globally [Read the full report here] observed that social media usage globally increased by 13 percent in the last 12 months, reaching 3.196 billion users. Of that mobile social media usage has increased by 14 percent year over year to 2.958 billion users, with 93 percent of social media users accessing social from mobile.
The report in its seventh year now revealed that Internet users are projected to spend a combined total of 1 billion years online in 2018, of which 325 million years will be spent on social media, according to the report. In the past year, 16 million people started using social media platforms in the US - an increase of 7 percent. Now, more than 70 percent of Americans use social media and spend two hours a day on social platforms. Overall, Americans spend 6.5 hours a day using the Internet, 60 percent more time than they spend watching television.
“With four billion people now online, connectivity is already a way of life for most of us. However, as Internet companies strive to serve the next billion users, we’ll see important changes in digital over the coming months. Audio-visual content will take priority over text - especially in social media and messaging apps - while voice commands and cameras will replace keyboards as our primary means of input. Social relationships and online communities will evolve to accommodate these new ways for people to interact with each other. This will result in rich new experiences for all of us, but businesses need to start preparing for these changes today,” said Simon Kemp, Global Consultant, We Are Social.
The report also found that global growth of the Internet is propelling ecommerce forward, with 1.77 billion Internet users purchasing consumer goods online in 2017, an increase of 8 percent compared to a year ago. Collectively, consumers spent a total of USD $1.474 trillion on ecommerce platforms in the past 12 months, 16 percent more than in 2016.
“The Digital in 2018 report highlights the continuing growth of the Internet and social media to individuals and businesses around the world. This dynamic has forever altered the customer journey as consumers and B2B professionals increasingly conduct research, make buying decisions, seek support, and recommend brands online. To achieve competitive advantage, all executives must dive deep into digital now, meeting their customers where they are to best market, sell, and serve them,” said Penny Wilson, CMO, Hootsuite.
In contrast, a United Nations report released in November 2016 by the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) revealed that 3.9 billion people do not have home or mobile internet access and that the problem was most acute among the world’s “female, elderly, less educated, lower income and rural (populations).”
One problem is the cost of fixed-broadband access, which has fallen globally over the last decade but remained “clearly unaffordable” in many of the world’s poorest countries, the ITU said.
In 2008, the global average price for a basic fixed-broadband connection was $80 per month, a figure which fell to $25 a month last year, according to the ITU. But, in poorer countries a fixed-broadband monthly package with just one gigabyte of data—which is roughly the amount needed to download an average movie— still costs more than half of an average annual salary.
With fixed broadband so expensive, mobile internet access can offer a solution to get more people online the ITU said, noting that mobile-broadband networks technically cover 84 percent of the world’s population. But for many it is the cost of the handset, rather than the monthly subscription, which remained the biggest economic barrier to mobile internet access, as a result of which many users do not fully benefit from its potential.”
To increase digital access globally, experts believe it needed better data about who was being shut out of the information technology world. As UN mentioned “A data revolution is needed to better understand who uses the internet, where and how.”
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