Developing Countries Driving Global Internet Growth

Mary Meeker’s latest presentation on internet trends is out and making the rounds, and as usual, she’s gathered some great stats about global internet growth. Like, for example, out of the top 10 countries online, the U.S. is #8 – that’s it. China tops the list at #1 with India following close behind at #2. But that’s not the most valuable information on the page. Look at the Y/Y growth:

Internet users grew 38% in India, 44% in the Philippines, and 26% in Turkey. Growth also occurred in China (12%), Indonesia (22%) and Mexico (19%), with marginal growth in the U.S. (1%) and Russia (3%). No stats were available for Nigeria and Iran but based on ITU’s 2010 stats for population penetration in those countries, Nigeria maintained 28% population penetration while Iran’s grew from 13% to 48%.

Few of these countries, except the U.S., show high population penetration so it’s safe to say there’s more to come in terms of growth – which also means that the developing countries are driving the growth worldwide.

Developing World Catching Up Fast

This isn’t so surprising when you consider ITU stats on mobile and internet penetration from 2000 to 2010:

  • Mobile cellular penetration in the developing world reached 70% at the end of 2010 – just six years after reaching 70% in the developed world.
  • Global Internet user penetration reached 30% in 2010; Internet user penetration in developed countries reached 30% just nine years earlier, in 2001.
  • Internet user penetration in the developing world as a whole reached 21% in 2010.

It seems that while the developed countries might be first, the developing countries pick up the pace quick. Africa is on schedule to top the percentage of global average of internet traffic from mobile devices (3%) by 2015 by 17%. Back in 2000, the continent’s internet user penetration sat at 0.5%; that number grew to 13% in 2011. South Africa and Nigeria are even in the top 30 countries for global mobile subscribers, #18 and #30 respectively, among other emerging markets:

Mobile Internet consumers 2012
Looks like businesses looking to go global should start considering emerging markets (on mobile devices especially); this rapid growth seems to keep speeding up.