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There are now more than 4 billion internet users worldwide

by on 31st January 2018

According to a new report from Hootsuite and WeAreSocial, there are now 4 billion internet users globally (a 7% YoY increase). The report also estimates the number of unique mobile users at 5.1 billion and the number of social media users at 3.1 billion.

The increase has primarily been spurred by a 20% YoY increase in the number of internet users in Africa – the report claims around 200 million people from Africa bought a smartphone for the first time in 2017.

While these figures are clearly indicative of a rapid improvement in affordability and accessibility of internet-enabled devices across the world, it’s important to note internet penetration still remains noticeably low in certain regions in Africa. For example, the report estimates internet penetration for ‘Middle Africa’ at a meagre 12%.

It’s a similar outcome for Asia. While an additional 5% of users (98 million people) have come online in the last year, internet penetration for Southern Asia is only at 36%.

It’s also interesting to the varying popularity of the devices used to access the internet. You’ll be unsurprised to find that accessing the internet via mobile is the most popular option worldwide – 52% of all web pages served in 2017 were served to a mobile device.

The second most popular device is desktop, which is down 3% in popularity on figures from 2016.

It’s important to note from a marketing perspective that this doesn’t suggest higher returns from targeting smartphone users.  The Adobe Retail Industry report communicates the important statistic – every desktop visit is worth 4x every smartphone visit.

It’s also worth reviewing the revenue share by device table from the same report.

The biggest gains in social media users were again in Africa and Asia. Total global growth in social media usage is 13%, while Asia is the dominant force in this growth – Central Asia in particular has seen a 90% increase in social media users over the last year.

In terms of social media growth on a country-by-country basis, Saudi Arabia and India come out on top having grown 32% and 31% over the course of the last year.

Despite the popular adage of ‘Facebook is primarily used by older people’, the report shows its largest base by some distance is still 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds.

Users in the Philippines spend the most amount of time on social media (3 hours and 42 minutes per day), with users in the US and UK significantly behind on 2 hours 01 minutes and 1 hour 54 minutes.

Facebook is also still the world’s largest and most popular social media website with 2.1 billion active users. YouTube is its nearest competitor with 1.5 billion active users, while WeChat has amassed 980 million active users.

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