According to the study, Canada’s population of Netizens stands at 21.7 million people. This represented a 7% increase over 2007, the last time the study was conducted.
When I scanned the release, I initially decided I wouldn’t blog about it, since there wasn’t much that was noteworthy. To me, it painted a picture of a largely stable — OK, slightly increasing — state of connectivity in Canada. Ho hum.
But then I saw this: China’s population of Internet users in 2009 was 384 million – about 18 times larger than the Great White North. And size of China’s Netizenry is exploding, showing 29% year-over-year growth.
OK, OK, big deal – China’s a huge country and it’s rapidly modernizing so of course you’re going to see that we’re small potatoes by comparison.
What’s more interesting is the difference between China and Canada in *how* Internet users get online. In China, access is dominated by mobile — 61% of all Internet users are mobile Internet users. In Canada, while mobile is growing, connectivity is dominated by wireline access — provided by either cable or telephone lines. The following chart shows the dominance of wireline access in Canada.
Actually, this chart doesn’t even mention mobile as a unique class of Internet access — it lumps it in with “other.” Although I suspect that the vast majority of this category is in fact access via mobile devices. So let’s say that that is the case.
Personally, I see mobile as the future of the Internet. (I’ve posted about this before.) So given the rapid year-over-year growth and prevalence of mobile connectivity in China, I read this as Chinese Internet users actually skipping over a step that countries (like Canada) with more established ‘Net populations went through. Where we started with wireline access plugged into a desktop PC, then moved on to a laptop (still ultimately connected to a wireline, even though we added wireless networks within our homes), and are only now moving to mobile, it seems like many in China have simply leapfrogged straight from unconnected to mobile Internet access. & in the process, leaving in the dust those in countries where Net connectivity started with wirelines.