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Internet Adoption Shaping Digital Lifestyles

According to IDC estimates, about a quarter of the world's population -- roughly 1.4 billion people -- will use the Internet on a regular basis in 2008. That number is expected to surpass 1.9 billion unique users, or 30 percent of the world's population, in 2012.

"The Internet will have added its second billion users over a span of about eight years, a testament to both its universal appeal and its availability," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC.

"In this time, the Internet has also become more deeply integrated into the fabric of many user's personal and professional lives, enabling them to work, play, and socialize anytime from anywhere. These trends will accelerate as the number of mobile users continues to soar and the Internet becomes truly ubiquitous."

While the PC is currently the dominant means of gaining access to the Internet, IDC expects the number of mobile devices accessing the Internet will surpass the number of online PCs by 2012. Once on the Internet, users will continue to spend time on Web 1.0 activities like searching, shopping, and sending email.

But Web 2.0 activities, such as watching user-generated videos, posting blogs, and participating in social networks, are quickly capturing the attention and time online of more and more Internet users. The latter will create new opportunities and challenges for online advertisers seeking to monetize the Internet experience.

IDC's forecast includes the following:

- Users will access the Internet through more than 1.5 billion devices worldwide in 2008, including PCs, mobile phones, and online video game consoles. By 2012, the number of devices accessing the Internet will double to more than 3 billion, half of which will be mobile devices.

- China passed the United States in 2007 to become the country with the largest number of Internet users. China's online population is forecast to grow from 275 million users in 2008 to 375 million users in 2012.

- Nearly half of all Internet users will make online purchases in 2008. By 2012, there will be more than 1 billion online buyers worldwide making business to consumer (B2C) transactions worth $1.2 trillion. Business to business (B2B) eCommerce will be ten times larger, totaling $12.4 trillion worldwide in 2012.

- Worldwide spending on Internet advertising will total $65.2 billion in 2008, which is nearly 10 percent of all ad spending across all media. This share is expected to reach 13.6 percent by 2011 as Internet ad spending grows to $106.6 billion worldwide.

- Roughly 40 percent of all Internet users worldwide currently have mobile Internet access. The number of mobile Internet users will reach 546 million in 2008, nearly twice as many as in 2006, and is forecast to surpass 1.5 billion worldwide in 2012.

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