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Mobile users top 2bn worldwide

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The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that 3,2-billion people, or 44% of the world’s population, will have access to the Internet in 2016. Of this number, more than 2-billion will be using mobile devices to do so.

Growth in Internet access is taking place around the world, but some countries are seeing particularly rapid growth. China, India, and Indonesia lead the way and will account for almost half of the gains in access globally over the course of the next five years. The combination of lower-cost devices and inexpensive wireless networks are making accessibility easier in countries with populations that could not previously afford them.

The total number of mobile Internet users is forecast to rise at a pace of 2% annually through 2020 unless significant new methods of accessing the Internet are introduced. Efforts by Google, SpaceX, and Facebook among others to make the Internet available to the remaining 4-billion people via high altitude planes, balloons, and satellites are underway. However, it remains unclear how successful these endeavours will be and when they will be operational at scale.

“Over the next five years global growth in the number of people accessing the Internet exclusively through mobile devices will grow by more than 25% per year while the amount of time we spend on them continues to grow. This change in the way we access the Internet is fuelling explosive growth in mobile commerce and mobile advertising,” says Scott Strawn, program director: strategic advisory service at IDC.

Measuring what Internet users are doing online shows that many activities are enjoyed by billions of people. For example, more than a billion people use the Internet to bank online, to stream music, and to find a job. More than 2-billion use e-mail and read news online. And more people than ever before are making purchases online.

In 2015, more than $100 billion will be spent online on each of the following categories: travel, books, CDs and DVDs, downloading apps, and online classes. These purchases are enabled by online payment platforms that are making payments, online and off, easier and more secure.

As more people are spending more time and money online, increasingly through mobile devices, advertisers are recognizing this and shifting their spending accordingly. Almost all of the growth in advertising spending across all of its forms is attributable to the growth in mobile advertising and online video.

Advertisers are able to direct ads to users based on their preferences as indicated by online behaviour, which allows them to better understand how their content is being absorbed than ads on television and radio. With this data they can present a case to advertisers that online advertising offers a better return on their ad dollar. This, along with shifts in the ways people around the world absorb media, have been recognized by advertisers and they are shifting their spending accordingly.