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2014 was a landmark year for growth across all things digital, and We Are Social’s new Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015 report indicates that this year will see even more impressive numbers.
Including stats for more than 240 countries around the world, and profiling 30 of the world’s biggest economies in detail, this report is the most comprehensive, free compendium of up-to-date digital statistics and data you’ll find.
So what do its 376 pages reveal?
As we’ve seen in our on-going series of Digital Statshot reports, mobile increasingly dominates the digital world, and we’re confident that ‘ubiquitous connectivity’ will gather even more pace during 2015, as cheaper handsets and more affordable data connections reach further around the world.
What’s more, with mobile-oriented services like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger achieving the top social media ranking spots in some of the world’s biggest economies, it’s clear that much of our digital behaviour is now converging around mobile devices.
Based on the trends within this data, we expect that mobile will help to push internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during mid to late 2016.
Before that, though, we expect to see social media penetration reach one-third of the world’s population – likely by the end of 2015 – with new users in developing nations accounting for almost all of this growth.
In Context: 12 Months of Amazing Growth
The digital world passed some impressive milestones in 2014:
- Worldwide social media users exceeded 2 billion back in August;
- Worldwide penetration of mobile phones passed 50% in September;
- The number of global internet users passed 3 billion in early November;
- The number of active mobile connections surpassed the total world population just last month;
Excitingly, the numbers in our new 2015 report suggest that this growth shows no signs of slowing anytime soon:
You’ll find an amazing wealth of data and infographics designed for easy copy-paste into your own presentations in the SlideShare embed above, but read on for our additional insights into the numbers.
Almost 42% of the world’s population has access to the internet in January 2015, representing a significant jump in reported numbers since last year’s report, when the same figure was just 35%:
Our analysis of these numbers suggests that much of this increase is due to more accurate and timely reporting of data rather than a sudden surge in access, but there is little doubt that many millions of new users accessed the internet for the first time in the past 12 months – many of them via mobile phones.
As we reported in early November, more than 3 billion people around the world now use the internet via a variety of different devices. However, access is not evenly distributed: the reported number of internet users in Bermuda, Bahrain and Iceland almost equals those countries’ total reported populations, but the data also suggest that fewer than 0.1% of the populations of North Korea and South Sudan have access to the internet.
Internet connection speeds vary significantly around the world too, from an average of more than 25 Mbps in South Korea, to barely 2 Mbps in India. Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the USA make up the top 5 fastest nations after South Korea, with each registering speeds in excess of 10 Mbps, putting them well above the global average of 4.5 Mbps:
The average internet user spends around 4 hours and 25 minutes using the net each day, with Southeast Asians registering the highest average daily use. Research conducted by GlobalWebIndex shows that Filipino internet users spend more than 6 hours per day using the net, with Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians and Malaysians also all averaging more than 5 hours of use per day:
Mobile’s share of global web traffic leapt 39% since the same time last year, with one-third of all web pages now served to mobile phones:
However, mobile’s share of the web also varies considerably around the world: mobile phones account for 89% of all pages served in Papua New Guinea, but barely 0.1% of pages served in some of the smaller Caribbean islands.
It’s worth highlighting that India’s web traffic is dominated by mobile devices, with phones alone accounting for 72% of all web pages served in the world’s second most populous nation:
The good news is that the potential for faster mobile internet access has grown exponentially in the past year, with 39% of all global mobile connections now classified as ‘broadband’ (i.e. 3G or 4G):
Social media continues to grow apace around the world too, with active user accounts now equating to roughly 29% of the world’s population.
Monthly active user (MAU) figures for the most active social network in each country add up to almost 2.08 billion – a 12% increase since January 2014:
Meanwhile, research conducted by GlobalWebIndex suggests that the average social media user spends 2 hours and 25 minutes per day using social networks and microblogs, with Argentinian and Filipino users registering the most, at more than 4 hours per day:
Facebook continues to dominate the global social media landscape, claiming 1.366 billion active users in January 2015. Crucially, 1.133 billion of the platform’s global users – 83% of the total – now access the service through mobile devices.
Meanwhile, Tencent extended its dominance of Chinese-language social networks, with Qzone’s 629 million active accounts leading the pack. However, our analysis indicates that a number of the platform’s users have more than one account, meaning this figure may not be reliable as a basis for the calculation of social media penetration.
VKontakte retains the top social media spot in Russia and a handful of its neighbours, although reliable monthly active user figures are more difficult to come by. The latest data suggest the platform has around 100 million monthly active users, of which roughly two-thirds are in Russia.
As we saw above, mobile usage of social networks like Facebook continues to grow all over the world. Adding up the mobile users of the top social network in each country, we see at least 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts in January 2015:
Meanwhile, instant messenger services and chat apps continue their impressive growth patterns, with WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Viber all reporting more than 100 million new monthly active users over the past 12 months.
Instant messenger services and chat apps now account for 3 of the top 5 global social platforms, and 8 instant messenger brands now claim more than 100 million monthly active users:
As in other areas of this year’s report, much of this growth has been fuelled by the increasing importance of mobile devices in people’s everyday lives, and this trend looks set to accelerate in 2015.
Unique mobile users exceeded 50% of the world’s population in September 2014, and the current year-on-year growth rate of more than 5% suggests we’ll see roughly 200 million new mobile users over the next 12 months.
GSMA Intelligence and Ericsson both report more than 7 billion active mobile subscriptions, but it’s important to note that the average global mobile user still maintains roughly two active connections:
Smartphones account for an increasingly large proportion of mobile use, with Ericsson reporting that these devices claim a 38% share of the world’s active connections:
Almost 4 in 10 global mobile connections now qualify as ‘broadband’ – i.e. a 3G connection or better – but as with so many other aspects of this report, fast mobile data access varies hugely from one country to the next:
Reports suggest that all of North Korea’s 2.8 million mobile connections are 3G or above, although this is tempered by the fact that the internet – or at least the internet as we know it in the rest of the world – is not available to the country’s average citizen. However, at 11% penetration – 65% up on the same period last year – the role of mobile in North Korea may be cause for optimism.
As with fixed internet access, South Korea is streets ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to mobile internet speeds, with the country’s mobile operators delivering an average connection of 18.2 Mbps – twice as much as any other nation.
Singapore and the UK follow, with 9.1 Mbps and 8.1 Mbps respectively. India, Brazil, Argentina all registered average mobile data connections below 2 Mbps, while Vietnam registered the slowest average mobile data connection in this years report, at barely 1.1 Mbps:
Despite these slow speeds, data reported by Ericsson in its latest Mobility Report suggest that the average global mobile connection uses around 900MB of data every month, with total monthly global data traffic rapidly approaching 3 exabytes – i.e. 3 billion gigabytes:
However, more than three-quarters of the world’s mobile connections are still pre-paid, and the costs of acquiring a phone and maintaining an active mobile connection continue to represent a significant proportion of household expenditure in many developing nations.
As a result, content producers and marketers must balance their desire to provide ‘rich’ user experiences such as online video with the likely costs that this will entail for their audiences:
What’s more, 58% of the world’s mobile connections still come from more basic, ‘feature’ phone handsets, meaning many people will be unable to access such content even if they’d like to.
At the other end of the mobile spectrum, the use of tablets increased steadily during 2014, with 7% of all web pages served in the past month going to these devices.
Combined, mobile phones and tablets now account for 38% of all web pages served around the world.
Mirroring this trend, laptops and desktops saw a 13% decline in share of web traffic compared to the same period last year, down to 62% of all web pages served:
Thanks to some great data from GlobalWebIndex, we’re delighted to include some detailed data points relating to online shopping for most of the countries in this year’s report.
The United Kingdom leads in terms of active e-commerce use, with data suggesting that almost two-thirds of the country’s population bought something online in the past month
Germany and South Korea follow close behind at 63% and 62% respectively, while the USA comes in fourth at 56%
South and Southeast Asia lag when it comes to e-commerce though, with data suggesting barely 14% of Indians bought something online in the past month. Similarly, fewer than 1 in 5 Thais and Filipinos used e-commerce in the past 30 days:
Mobile commerce is picking up momentum around the world though though, especially in East Asia, with data suggesting that 37% of South Koreans bought something online via a mobile phone in the past month.
The Chinese are also increasingly active mobile shoppers, with 27% of the population buying something through their phones in the past 30 days:
Local Country Profiles
You’ll also find in-depth profiles of 30 of the world’s largest economies in the report, in the same format as the China slides you’ll find at the bottom of this post.
Here’s a list of the countries we cover in detail:
So What Next?
If you’d like to explore the individual country data in more detail, you might like to know you can download the complete report for free by clicking here.
We’ll leave you with the country slides for China:
The digital world passed another huge milestone today, with InternetLiveStats reporting that the number of global internet users has just passed the 3 billion mark.
InternetLiveStats extrapolates its numbers from data provided by the ITU, the World Bank, and the United Nations, so the timing won’t be exact; however, the number remains a very useful guide to the continuing growth of the internet around the world.
Beyond this historic milestone, there are some more juicy numbers in this month’s Digital Statshot too, which you’ll find in the SlideShare above.
Read on for our analysis of those numbers, and what they mean for marketers.
2014 has seen steady growth in internet usage, with current trends suggesting that global users are increasing by more than 5% year-on-year.
Critically, Statista reports that roughly three-quarters of the world’s 3 billion users access the internet via mobile devices, and this ratio is steadily increasing as data connections become more accessible in developing nations.
Some of the world’s leading social networks released new user data in the past month too, with Facebook and Twitter both publishing updated user figures in October:
Facebook’s active user based showed growth of 2.3% in the past quarter, reaching 1.35 billion in time for the company’s latest quarterly report last week.
However, Facebook’s data also suggest that growth in some of the platform’s key countries – notably India and Indonesia – has slowed considerably in recent months, although our understanding is that this is likely due to Facebook ‘purging’ fake accounts, rather than an actual loss of interest in the world’s largest social network.
Twitter’s new numbers show that the platform now claims 284 million active users around the world, which, despite the stock market’s reaction, still demonstrates steady growth.
The on-going rise of mobile chat apps continues to be 2014′s hottest social media story, and with WhatsApp, WeChat, and LINE all showing strong growth in recent months, this trend looks set to dominate well into 2015 too:
This trend is mirrored by the continuing rise of mobile social networking too, with data from Facebook, Tencent and VKontakte indicating that more than 80% of the world’s social media users now access via mobile devices.
Please note that, following Tencent’s announcement that it will no longer support its Tencent Weibo platform, we’ve removed this from our reporting, as we believe that this move indicates that Tencent believes marketers would be better to use one of the company’s other platforms (which include QQ, QZone and WeChat).
Also, despite registering more than 1 billion monthly active users, we have opted not to include YouTube data in this report, as social connectivity is not the site’s primary function.
Mobile continues to register impressive growth around the world too, with GSMA Intelligence registering almost 1 million new unique users every day since our last report – that’s more than 11 new users every second.
The total number of active subscriptions continues to grow too, and at 7.267 billion, the number of connections is rapidly approaching the same figure as the world’s total population, which today stands at 7.272 billion according to Worldometers.
However, it’s important to note that the average mobile user still maintains more than 2 active mobile subscriptions, and global mobile penetration still hovers around the 50% mark:
We’ve been publishing snapshots of key digital data for some time now, but we thought it might make sense to bring these numbers together in a regular series of PDF reports, which we’re calling ‘Digital Statshots’.
These Statshot reports are designed to supplement our more in-depth Social, Digital and Mobile reports, which contain individual data points for more than 100 countries around the world. You’ll find all those in-depth reports by clicking here.
Read on for some of the highlights from Statshot 001…
Global internet users are quickly approaching 3 billion, and we expect numbers to pass this milestone before the end of 2014.
Social media usage continues to rise, although much of this growth relates to the increased use of chat apps.
Despite this growth, social networks still dominate the social landscape in most countries, and Facebook continued to register modest global growth in the first 6 months of 2014.
However, active usage of QZone (China’s largest active social network by user numbers) and VKontakte (which still dominates the social ecosystem in Russia and some of its neighbours) appears to have fallen slightly in recent months, albeit only by a matter of 1 or 2 percentage points.
We’re pleased to include data from Ericsson’s Mobility Report in this Statshot, which offers a new dimension to our mobile reporting.
It’s worth noting that there are significant differences between the data reported by Ericsson and GSMA Intelligence though, especially when it comes to unique user numbers.
Ericsson reports 4.6 billion unique users, which would suggest global penetration of 63%; however, GSMA Intelligence reports 3.6 billion global users, indicating a global penetration rate of 50%.
Both are obviously very impressive numbers, but it’s important to note the sizeable difference of 1 billion users between the two sources.
It’s also worth highlighting that GSMA Intelligence have revised their unique mobile user figures down slightly since our previous Statshot. However, we believe this revision is likely due to more accurate reporting from individual mobile operators, and is unlikely to reflect a real drop in unique user numbers.
Meanwhile, the number of active mobile connections (sometimes called contracts or subscriptions) is quickly approaching the same figure as the total world population. However, the average global mobile user still maintains roughly 2 active mobile connections, and half the world’s population is still ‘unconnected’.
Social media usage on mobile is growing rapidly, with the figures reported by key networks suggesting growth of almost 30 million users since our most recent report just 6 weeks ago.
Averaged out, that suggests roughly 725,000 new mobile social users ever day – or more than 8 new users every second.
Given the rapid growth of mobile users and skyrocketing chat app and mobile social adoption, it’s clear that – from a user perspective at least – mobile social is going to be the dominant story in 2015.
So, wherever you are in the world: if you’re putting together your marketing plans for next year, make sure you include sufficient budget for mobile social activities.
Some points to note on this report:
- We’ve gathered all data from third-party sources, all of which we’ve detailed in the footnotes of the relevant slides. You’ll find more information on those sources’ sample sizes, collection methodologies, and relevant time periods on their respective websites. We strive to ensure that all the data we include is as recent and accurate as possible, but please check with the relevant data source(s) if you have questions about individual data points.
- Where different sources report significantly different numbers for the same data point, we’ve included the different sets of data for convenient reference.
- You’re welcome to copy-paste these slides into your own presentations, reports, blogs and social media posts; all we ask is that you use the whole image, including the credits and logos for We Are Social and the original data sources.
- If you believe you have more accurate numbers for any of the relevant data points, we’d love to hear from you – just drop us an email.
The number of unique mobile phone users around the world has just passed 50% of the world’s total population.
The usage figures – provided by GSMA Intelligence – suggest that 100 million more people started using a mobile device since April of this year.
To put those figures in context, that’s more than 750,000 new mobile users every day – or 9 new users every second.
Changing Usage Patterns
Meanwhile, the average mobile user still maintains roughly 2 active contracts per phone, with the total number of active mobile connections almost equal to the number of people living on earth.
The average of 1.97 connections per user indicates a slight drop since April though, when the figure was 1.99.
This fall may in part be fuelled by an increasing move to smartphones; as more people gain access to mobile data plans and start to use ‘chat apps’ like WhatsApp and WeChat, the need to maintain multiple mobile contracts across different networks in order to benefit from cost efficiencies will diminish:
On that note, it’s worth noting that smartphone adoption is continuing apace; Ericsson reports that more than one-third of all active mobile contracts now run on smartphones, while smart devices accounted for 65% of the 300 million new handset sold between April and June of this year.
Critically, this 300 million figure – when compared to the growth in overall mobile users outlined above – suggests that many existing mobile users are upgrading to smart devices.
However, more than 4.6 billion mobile connections around the world still run on more basic, ‘feature phone’ handsets.
Connecting On The Go
Despite the continued dominance of feature phones though, the use of data-powered services is becoming more widespread: in the past quarter, Ericsson report that mobile broadband subscriptions exceeded 2.4 billion, while more than 1.5 billion social media users around the world accessed their accounts via mobile devices in the past 30 days:
For more data on Mobile, Social and Digital usage, see our full range of free reports.
The latest figures from Facebook suggest that the number of people actively using social media each month has now passed the 2 billion mark. More than half of these use Facebook each month, while Tencent’s QZone platform is home to almost one-third of all global users.
These aren’t the only platforms posting good numbers though – Twitter in particular has shown impressive active user growth in the past few months:
There will inevitably be overlap between users of these platforms though, so we’ve been careful to only include the numbers for the largest network in each country in our total global figure.
Given that, it’s worth noting that another big contributor to the global active user number is VKontakte, which accounts for 75 million of the total global figure. That’s not enough to place it in the Global Top 10 rankings above, but VK is still a dominant force in Russia and a number of its neighbours.
Beyond the social media stats, it’s equally exciting to report that more than half the planet now owns a mobile phone, with unique users now exceeding 3.6 billion.
Globally active mobile subscriptions now exceed 7.1 billion, suggesting that the average phone owner maintains almost 2 active subscriptions.
Internet growth also continues apace, with globally active users now tantalisingly close to the 3 billion mark.
Mobile social media use is also on the rise, with 77% of all social networking users now accessing via mobile devices.
You’ll find more specific figures – including data for more that 100 countries around the world – in our SDMW series of reports.