The Balance Of Power

The web is undeservedly U.S. centric. I’ve been saying it for years.

Even considering the United States is currently number 2 in the world in terms of internet users (234.4 million) it’s days are numbered, the balance of power will shift.

If it were possible for the United Stated could get every man, woman and child online today, the total number of internet users could only reach 307 Million, which would leave it still over 113 Million users behind China.

China currently has 420 Million users online, but with a population of over 1.3 Billion people , penetration levels are quite low so there is still room for phenomenal growth.

India is much the same with 6.9% (81 million) of it’s 1.173 Billion strong population online. Even if it only reached a 20% penetration (the U.S. has 76.3%) it would rival the U.S.

Think about the following (the text in italics was added by me):

  • The tenth largest country on the Internet is Nigeria. So although Africa as a whole is often considered to be a bit behind the curve on the Internet, it does have a presence among the top countries.
  • Seven out of the top 20 countries are Asian (35%).
  • Five out of the top 20 countries are European (25%). Six (30%) if you also count Russia.
  • Three of the top 20 are English-language countries (four if you count India – although it is a second language).

Even as we speak the U.S. is being surpassed and has no chance of ever catching up as it has almost maxed out it’s internet penetration (unless everybody starts shagging like rabbits and every family has 6 kids).

We’re about to witness a fundamental shift in the dominant languages used on the internet.

If we really want to succeed in the the largest markets, we’ll have to prepare to target markets with different languages, different cultures and different ways of thinking.

We need to be presenting our content in more languages and we need to stop thinking like the U.S. is the “end all and be all” of the technology and online world.

By staying U.S. or even English language focused we will be artificially limiting ourselves to an ever decreasing portion of the market.

Intenet Users Vs Population Size

The chart of the top 20 countries becomes so very telling when you look at the red bars. The red bars show the total population on the countries and it’s very easy to see those that have a lot of potential for growth.

China, India, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil, Indonesia all have massive potential for growth, while the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and others have pretty much reached their saturation points.

It doesn’t take much brain power to realize that this chart is going to look very different over the next 5 to 10 years and if we want to capitalize on that traffic and those markets we need to start doing so now.

Thanks to Pingdom for the chart.