The Incredible Internet Growth Story – Globally and in India

By the latest internet usage stats that are out there, the USA has a penetration rate of almost 80%. That translates to around 250 million people who live in the US using the internet.

Compared to this statistic, India’s penetration is very low.  Mid year, it was under 10%; however this small percentage still translates to some 100 million users. And, as of today’s newspaper, that number is set to rise to 121 million by year end, in just a matter of a few months. What’s more, the year to year growth is significant: 28%+ from 2010 to 2011.  So, like all aspects of emerging markets – India got a late start but is looking to make up for it with phenomenal growth rates to catch up with the developed world. This is quite similar to what is happening in the domain of mobile communications.

The computer that Tim Berners-Lee used to invent the World Wide Web at CERN in 1980

Worldwide, according to industry analysts, there were over 2 billion internet users by March 2011. Consider that this number was minimal just a few years ago and non-existent right before that! And consider this too: there were only around 350 million internet users in 2000.  That’s about two-thirds of the size of Facebook users today!

Pingdom conducted an interesting thought experiment (definitely worth reading!) on the hypothetical case of what internet usage would be like if all countries had a similar penetration as the US, which was taken as the base.  If this were to happen, China would have over a billion users (versus 425 million today) and India would have close to one billion users (versus 100 million today).

While this is hypothetical, it’s really not impossible to imagine this growth and these numbers. It’s going to happen someday, and if you go by the historical trend, the pace of change will be exponential, not linear.

Not to be left out of the growth game in emerging markets, last week Google India announced free websites (for one year) to Indian businesses.  Consider that of an estimated 8 million small/medium businesses in the country, only 5% have websites. Google’s objective is to get 500,000 businesses up and running with a website over the next three years.  Smart move!  As usual.

It will be silly for SMBs to not take advantage of this offer. And one thing I can guarantee you, there are very few silly Indian business owners around. 🙂

What all these mind-boggling numbers mean is that there will be a paradigm shift in virtually everything people here do – how they live and how they run their businesses. It means that they will need to rethink their supply chain model, their marketing and sales, how they compete, how they attract customers – not to mention how they live their lives, how and when they communicate with family and friends, how they plan their vacations, how they choose what to buy, who their service providers are….just about everything.

Of course, these changes are underway today already – but truly only for a fraction of the population. The next paradigm shift will occur due to the sheer mind-boggling numbers and the major momentum this will create.

Count yourself lucky because we definitely live in such interesting times. I would go so far as to say these are the most interesting times in the history of the world – a time where everything is getting transformed due to the absolute connected-ness and accessibility in our world.

Look back at how things were ten, five and even just two years ago; such a look back demonstrates the dramatic pace of change that the internet has shaped. So, just think of the future – where the pace of progress and change is only going to increase substantially. This will truly be a momentous time – offering fresh, new (and sometimes wild!) prospects of living and livelihood to all of us.

So brace yourself for an even more thrilling ride, wherever in the world you live – but more importantly, plan to make the most of it!


Photo Credits:

Internet Sign: I, Cawi2001 [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

World Internet Hosts Graph: By Ken Masters (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tim Berner Lee’s Computer:By Robert Scoble from Half Moon Bay, USA [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Internet Cafe Sign By: Justinc {{cc-by-sa-2.0}}Category:Neon signs Category:User:Justinc )


Posted on November 8, 2011, in india and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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