This year, it’s estimated that nearly 47% of the world’s population will use the Internet -- whether through a desktop or mobile device -- at least once a month. That’s according to eMarketer’s latest estimates of global Internet and mobile users.
The digital researcher last week raised its estimates for the number of global Internet users for 2016 to 2021 due to increases in China, Central and Eastern Europe, and Western Europe.
The 47% data point represents a 6.1% increase vs. 2016. Further, eMarketer estimates Internet adoption will hit 50.6% in 2019. It forecast that most of the growth will come from low-income and rural areas across Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa. In these areas, eMarketer expects people to go online for the first time via mobile Internet.
In fact, nearly four in five Internet users worldwide will use a mobile phone to access the Web this year, representing a 9.3% increase over 2016, eMarketer estimates. Growth in mobile Internet usage is supported by better WiFi coverage and more availability of 3G and 4G wireless service.
The researcher notes that less expensive smartphones and more affordable data plans will also drive mobile Internet usage growth. In addition, the number of smartphone users is expected to grow by double digits in every market except North America this year, according to eMarketer.
In addition, a big demand for messaging services and social media platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger is helping drive mobile Internet growth in less developed regions. And eMarketer finds that most mobile phone internet users in developed parts of the world will use a smartphone to go online. More than 98% in North America and 97% in Western Europe will do so this year.