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.

Has Google Gone A Step Too Far By Forcing Buzz On Users?

I know Google desperately want people to use Google Buzz, but as Steven Hodson pointed out, growth of the network will always be limited by the fact that you have to have a Gmail account in order to use the service.

Google Buzz is a clever trap, but a trap all the same. It is the hunk of cheese to get more people using Gmail which in turn locks users into Google even more.

Google, in it’s attempts to ensure adoption have taken the kind of  step that hasn’t been seen since the Microsoft of the 90’s and actually forced all Gmail account holders into being users regardless of whether they want to or not.

As Mark Davidson said on Facebook earlier tonight:

I’m not sure why but I’m bothered by Buzz. I don’t like it, I don’t want it. But I have it. Sure I don’t have to us it. I think maybe it’s because for the first time, Google has forced a web tool on me. I’ve been using Gmail since 2004. If I love Gmail, and I do, I’m forced to have Buzz. I’m about 10 minutes away from …re-installing MS Office so I can use Gmail as a relay for Outlook again. You know what I like? Choice. That’s what got me using Google web tools in the first place. Today is the first day, I’ve ever viewed Google in the same light as I viewed Microsoft in the mid-nineties.

It’s this kind of move that could result in a temporary boost for Gmail and Googles other services, but as I’ve already seen tonight people are complaining about things like unremoveable messages in their inbox, and of course the pre-existing faults caused by Googles need to have a universal address book and not allow you to delete contacts from one Google service without deleting them on all.

This forced use could ultimately be detrimental to Gmail as users who don’t want an intrusive social network clogging up their inbox choose to go to less crowded and more traditional email systems. Yes, you can stop Buzz features from appearing in your inbox after the fact but once you are in, you’re in.

As I’ve said before, the right tool for the right job, and morphing Gmail into a full featured social network may stop it being a tool of productivity and turn it into another Facebook/Twitter timewaster.

Google Buzz is a clever trap, but a trap all the same. It is the hunk of cheese to get more people using GMail which in turn locks users into Google even more.

Twitter Can’t Remember Lists?

I’ve been running into the phenomenon of people who are not on Twitter lists showing up in the results when the lists are clicked.

Have a look at the screenshot below and you will see what I mean. None of the people above @John_C are on the “Daily Shite Authors List” yet there they are on the list page, clear as day.

I’ve also been seeing something similar happen when I view my @ replies, where there are results that quite plainly are not replies to me in any way, shape or form.

Tiwtter lists

When Will The Web Stop Being U.S. Centric?

I’ve given out before about the fact that America and American internet users are not the end all and be all of the web.

In fact, if every single internet user in North America were to shuffle off this mortal coil simultaneously then the internet would loose less than 1/7th (one seventh) of its user base.

Just compare the numbers for 2009 as posted by Royal Pingdom and ask yourself why people look to America and the U.S. market for everything when even the European market has almost double the users?

  • 1.73 billion – Internet users worldwide (September 2009).
  • 18% – Increase in Internet users since the previous year.
  • 738,257,230 – Internet users in Asia.
  • 418,029,796 – Internet users in Europe.
  • 252,908,000 – Internet users in North America.
  • 179,031,479 – Internet users in Latin America / Caribbean.
  • 67,371,700 – Internet users in Africa.
  • 57,425,046 – Internet users in the Middle East.
  • 20,970,490 – Internet users in Oceania / Australia.

us centric globe