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Internet to Hit 3 Billion Users in 2015

Nearly half the world's population will have regular access to the web by 2018

November 20, 2014 | Advertising & Marketing

The number of internet users worldwide will surpass 3 billion in 2015, according to new figures from eMarketer, increasing 6.2% next year to reach 42.4% of the entire world's population.

Internet Users and Penetration Worldwide, 2013-2018 (billions, % of population and % change)

This year, the internet will reach more than two in five people in the world for the first time as online audience hits 2.89 billion users globally. By 2018, eMarketer estimates, nearly half the world's population, or 3.6 billion people, will access the internet at least once each month.

"Inexpensive mobile phones and mobile broadband connections are driving internet access and usage in countries where fixed internet has been out of reach for consumers, whether that's due to lack of infrastructure or affordability," said Monica Peart, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer. "While highly developed markets are nearly saturated in terms of internet users, there's significant room for growth in emerging ones; for example, India and Indonesia will both see double-digit growth in each year between now and 2018."

Our latest internet user forecast added 19 new countries, bringing our total to 41—including our first breakouts for individual countries in Middle East & Africa. In addition, we significantly expanded our coverage of countries in Southeast Asia, Central & Eastern Europe and Latin America.

On a country-by-country basis, here are year-by-year other milestones eMarketer anticipates during our forecast period:

  • 2014: Brazil will supplant Japan as fourth-largest internet user population
  • 2015: Mexico will settle firmly into the eighth spot, eclipsing Germany
  • 2016: India will jump the US as the second-largest internet user population
  • 2017: Indonesia will reach the top five, overtaking Japan
  • 2018: China will eclipse three-quarters of a billion users, after showing accelerating growth in each year in our forecast

Top 25 Countries, Ranked by Internet Users, 2013-2018 (millions)

eMarketer bases all of our forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all our forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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