Online is Norm, Not Exception

Data from 2012 shows Web access and use growing worldwide, with a real surge in social media and mobile traffic.There are 2.4 billion Internet users worldwide compared to 2.2 billion email users. There are 5 billion mobile phone users, including 1.3 billion who have smartphones. There were a staggering 1.2 trillion Google searches in 2012 and 1 billion active Facebook users.

Those are a sampling of statistics arrayed in a blog by Pingdom, which helps its clients keep their websites online. It has provided similar year-end summaries since 2008.

The 2012 summary is dotted with interesting data points, such as the average Twitter user tweets 307 times per year, the average LinkedIn user is 44.2 years old and 47 percent of Facebook users are female.

Some of the information has commercial value in assessing channel choices. For example, there are 425 million active Gmail users, which Pingdom says makes it the largest email provider in the world. The top 100 blogs that run on WordPress claim a 48 percent share of viewers. There were 37 million page views on Reddit.com and 191 million visitors to Google Sites, making it the number one web property in the United States.

The three largest web browsers are Internet Explorer (39 percent), Chrome (28 percent) and Firefox (25 percent). Safari trails the leaders with only a 6 percent market share.

According to Pingdom, 465 million Android smartphones were purchased in 2012, which no doubt helped push the share of mobile traffic on the Internet to 13 percent. The percentage of global media traffic that was video content was 59 percent.

There are 14 million Vimeo users and more than 150 million unique visitors clicked to watch video on Google Sites. More than 2.7 billion people watched videos on YouTube that were tagged with Obama or Romney during the 2012 election cycle. Astoundingly, there were 8 million concurrent views of the live stream of Felix Baumgartner's plunge from the edge of space.

Then there are geographical breakdowns with fascinating information. Of the 2.4 billion Internet users worldwide, only 274 million of them are in North America. The largest concentration of Web users is in Asia, with 1.1 billion users or 44 percent of the world's total. There are 519 million Internet users in Europe.

Looking at the same user numbers, but from the perspective of penetration, almost 79 percent of North America has Internet access, contrasted to just 27.5 percent of Asia, though China's penetration is almost double that. 

The social media data points are, well, off the charts. There are 2.7 billion "likes" on Facebook and an average of 175 million tweets on Twitter every day. The average age of Twitter users is 37.3 years old and 40.5 for Facebook users. Some 2.5 million hours of news-related video were uploaded to YouTube. Every month, 4 billion hours of video are viewed on YouTube.

Some of the most obvious "finds" in this deep data pool are that more people are using mobile devices to access the web and social media isn't a fad. Web uses span people's daily business and personal lives. Being online now is the norm, not the exception.