The number of people online around the world will grow more than 45 percent to 2.2 billion users over the next five years, according to a new report by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). Asia remains the biggest global Internet growth engine: 43 percent of the world’s online population will reside in Asia by 2013, with 17 percent of the global online population in China. Growth rates in the US, Western Europe, and the major industrialized nations in Asia Pacific such as Australia, Japan, and South Korea will slow to between 1 percent and 3 percent. The top-line, five-year forecast is available to select Forrester clients in the report “Global Online Population Forecast, 2008-2013”; subscribers to Forrester’s ForecastView receive more detailed forecast data.

“While per capita online spending is likely to remain highest in North America, Western Europe, and the developed markets of Asia throughout the next five years, the shifting online population and growing spending power among Asian consumers means that Asian markets will represent a far greater percentage of the total in 2013 than they do today,” said Forrester Research Senior Analyst Zia Daniell Wigder. “Multinational organizations must understand the dynamics of the shifting global online population to ensure that they are positioned to take advantage of emerging international opportunities.”

The Internet user base is increasing in every area of the world. Regional highlights include:

  • North America. Online penetration in the US is set to rise from 73 percent to 82 percent over the next five years, representing about a 3 percent annual growth rate. By 2013, US online penetration will be on par with the most highly penetrated markets of Europe and Asia, such as the Netherlands, the UK, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Europe. Europe’s Internet growth will be fueled by the continent’s emerging markets. Internet usage in Russia and Turkey will grow by almost 8 percent annually, while growth in Spain’s online population will increase by an average of more than 5 percent each year.
  • Asia. China’s online population (already the largest in the world) will rise by nearly 11 percent each year over the next half decade. Other Asian countries with substantial online growth rates include India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. By contrast, growth rates in some of the more mature markets such as Japan and South Korea will rise by less than 2 percent each year.
  • Latin America. Brazil is currently the fourth largest market in the world in terms of number of Internet users, but despite a 7 percent annual growth rate over the next five years, it will drop to the No. 5 position in 2010 when it is surpassed by India.
  • Africa and the Middle East. The countries of the Middle East and Africa currently represent just 8 percent of the global online population but over the next five years will see some of the highest growth rates in the world, around 13 percent. Egypt, Iran, and Nigeria are among the countries with the highest growth rates in the region.

Countries With The Most Internet Users: 2008

  1. US
  2. China
  3. Japan
  4. Brazil
  5. Germany

Countries With The Most Internet Users: 2013

  1. China
  2. US
  3. India
  4. Japan
  5. Brazil

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