More and more of the world is getting hooked on the internet, with mobile phones helping drive up growth. But you might be surprised by some of the countries seeing an explosion in web use.
In Europe, Italy is leading the way, despite its struggling economy. It saw a massive 24 per cent rise in users or internettisti between April 2011 and April 2012 (according to ComScore).
Worldwide, Venezuela saw the biggest increase. An impressive 62 per cent more internautas got connected in the last year. Other countries with strong growth are India (34 per cent), Indonesia (29 per cent) and Mexico (22 per cent).
More people around the world are connecting on the move (picture: Ed Yourdon)
According to EMarketer, mobile is a big driver of this growth. This is certainly a factor in Italy, where the rise in smartphone use is changing the online landscape. Of course it’s nothing new that Italians love their cellulari – since 2009 there’s been an estimated 1.5 mobile subscriptions per person in the country. Although growth is now stagnating, the number accessing the internet from their phones has soared recently. There were an estimated 12.2 million monthly mobile internet users in Italy at the end of 2011, and this is expected to rise to 16 million this year.
It’s interesting to note that three of the top ten fastest growing internet countires are Colombia, Indonesia and Venezuela – three of the so-called CIVETS nations (the others are Egypt, Turkey and South Africa). They’ve been tipped as the emerging markets to watch, with young populations and dynamic economies.
And of course, it’s hard to ignore China, which has the world’s largest number of web users. New figures show that usage soared by 11 per cent in the last year. Once again, smartphones are helping to drive this growth.
So what does this mean for global online marketing? A mobile friendly website is fast becoming essential for international companies. This is particularly true if you’re targeting countries such as India, where many users are still “mobile-only” and rarely use desktop or laptop computers.
It’s also important to research trends in different countries. Social media can be a great way to reach customers – but there are big differences between cultures. In Europe, Spanish and Italian users are much more likely to be active on networks. The Brazilians and Indonesians are also some of the most socially connected in the world.
And of course, speaking to users in their own language is a must. As the internet grows, it’s also getting more diverse and multilingual. English speakers make up only around a quarter of users – and this is falling. Research shows that people overwhelmingly prefer to browse (and shop) in their mother tongue.
There’s no doubt the world wide web is growing – and changing – fast. It’ll be fascinating to watch the shifting online landscape in the next few years.