Internet Statistics and Trends for 2020: What’s Important to Know

The rise of the internet and digital communications technology is one of the defining trends and stories of not only this past decade but this century. Due to these developments, we can now access any information or media we would like with just a few clicks (or taps); we can have a list of online services that can meet practically any need (or have it delivered to us), and yet its potential has still not been fully realized.

Understanding the internet (both past and present) and its current trends, at least to the degree we hope to go over here, is vital to making the most of your services, learning what’s available, and better understanding world events. It might even help you with your work or make additional connections.

Here are the statistics, facts, and other things you need to know to better understand the internet today.

Number of Users and Increased Access

What’s astonishing about the Internet as of late is the adoption rate among people worldwide. In short, people are now more able to afford phones and other devices that have internet access, and infrastructure is being built more rapidly and more efficiently than ever before. As more people come online, the more connected the world will become and, perhaps, the more reliant we will be on the internet to meet our basic needs.

Here are some trends and statistics you should know about internet access in 2020:

  • According to Internet World Stats, billions of people, specifically 4.57 billion as of the end of 2019, are currently using the internet. That number will still grow, even as a percentage of the total population.

Number of Worldwide Internet Users by Year

Source

  • If you consider the information displayed above, there has been constant expansion ever since the internet hit the mainstream. There will, however, eventually be a slowing of the curve as nearly everyone economically able to do so gains access to the internet. Still, there is also hope that new markets will invest in the infrastructure to get even more people online soon.
  • One technology to keep on your radar is improved satellite internet. Several companies are investing, trying to be one of the first ones past the starting line, given the potential returns.
  • Additionally, it might be possible that some ISPs or other businesses pair up with governments and set up internet infrastructure to gain access to a new market, as opposed to waiting for communities to do so.
  • The other major factor to consider when considering the growth of the internet is rates of user penetration. Effectively, this means the percentage of people using a service (in this case, the internet).

User Penetration Rates by Country

    • Interestingly, the United States, perhaps due to its vast geography, doesn’t even have one of the highest penetration rates in the world.
    • Instead, it’s far more common to see smaller denser countries have a higher penetration rate, given the relative ease of installing the infrastructure country-wide.
  • Yet even with everything mentioned above, it’s noteworthy that only 7 percent of the world’s population has internet access. In the next few years, we’ll be able to get a better scope of how soon that number will grow to nearly everyone on earth.

Usage Behaviors and Trends

It’s also important to consider how people are using the internet, for how long, and why. While there could be huge, ever changing books dedicated to this topic (and there are), here are a few key stats to set you on the right path:

  • The average person in 2020 uses the internet for six hours and 30 minutes each day.
    • That is more time than most people spend eating, equals the time many spend working, and there is no doubt that there are people who spend more time online than they do sleeping.

Key Internet Usage Statistics

    • There are concerns from some about both the physical and mental health effects of this amount of usage. Still, it’s unlikely people will change their habits for any but the most harrowing findings.
    • And it’s not just a subset of people boosting the numbers. According to Pew Research, about 81 percent of United States adults go online daily. For many, the internet has integrated itself into their entire lifestyle.
  • According to Internet Live Stats, there are 81,827 Google searches every second as of the time of this writing. That adds up to billions of searches made every day, and people have become reliant on Google (and in some cases other search engines) to get through their day and navigate the internet.
    • While we could use any number of statistics to drive home just how many people use the internet, and while we will go into some other household names soon, we found Google searches to be an excellent method of showcasing the scale of modern internet usage.

As a last note to this section, these stats generally include time spent on smartphones. While we will tackle smartphone statistics later on in this article, we wanted to point this out in case you considered your own habits and found you barely spent any time on your desktop or laptop computer.

Social Media

Whether you use it much yourself or not, social media has become a part of daily life and a pillar of modern culture, responsible for the proliferation of large amounts of information and a career (or career aspiration) for many. We are still figuring out its place in our lives and our society, and, like many things related to technology, it’s rapidly evolving. Here are a few statistics for you to get the pulse on it in 2020:

  • While many would hope that people are the focus on Facebook, advertisements and brands have a massive presence on the platform. They are constantly trying to keep up engagement and stay in your life. According to the Sprout Social Index, 89 percent of marketers use Facebook, and 83 percent of their survey participants say they use it, despite some of the backlash the company has received in recent years.
    • Nonetheless, people are becoming increasingly aware of marketing efforts and are more likely to ignore them. Brands have seen a median engagement rate of 09 percent among their posts.
    • However, that doesn’t mean people don’t follow brands on Facebook. The Sprout Social Index also noted that 66 percent of survey participants followed or liked a brand on the platform.
  • Social media isn’t necessarily dominated entirely by younger generations, but younger people are more likely to be using social media.

Social Media Users by Generation

    • While we can’t predict whether baby boomers and Gen X will get further on-board with social media, we can expect that social media sites will either make efforts to better connect with them, or new outlets may try to cater to more specific audiences in the future.
  • Yet while most people are on social media, and people are spending a lot of time on it, some of its adverse effects have been noticed. About 39 percent of the United States and United Kingdom social media users decreased their time on social media platforms over the last 12 months.
    • You may not notice this yourself as most of these people aren’t deleting or deactivating their accounts and instead just trying to reduce the time they spend on those networks.
  • Social media has become vital to ecommerce and the economy at large, with 54 percent of social media browsers using social media to research and better understand products.

We could talk about another dozen social media sites and networks. However, ultimately your takeaway should be that social media is still growing and adapting with new networks innovating and competing with the mainstays. We are also starting to see some backlash against how important social media has become in our lives.

Websites and Services

The internet itself can be a somewhat nebulous concept to many, but ultimately the way most people see it is through various websites, services, and apps. It’s an endless sea of them, with most remaining unimportant but some bursting through those murky waters to gain a mainstream audience. While studying the trends of most individual sites is a pointless exercise, you should at least be aware of some of the top options and how people might be using them.

Here are some statistics on the size of the internet when considering websites, as well as the top websites operating today:

  • The total number of websites in operation is staggering. If you haven’t noticed yourself, there are usually thousands of search results for even relatively specific queries.

Total Number of Websites

    • There is a bit more to this data than what might show on the surface. There might be duplicate domains, multiple pages on what you might consider a website, and other complicating factors. Nonetheless, rest assured there are more websites online than a person could possibly view in their lifetime, even if there has been a reduction in the past year.
    • Additionally, the number of websites above also considers all the websites that expire, are deleted or are otherwise no longer online. The number of websites generally still keeps increasing despite many sites disappearing each day.
    • There are also indexed and unindexed pages. Based entirely on Google’s index, there are currently about 5 billion webpages you can visit.
    • If you were to look at one page every second, it would take you nearly 1900 years to view them all.
  • There are several ways you can look at or measure the top websites in operation today. The clearest trend that one might notice is that the top websites are companies or services you barely even think of as websites anymore. They’re household names such as Google or Facebook. They’re home pages we hardly ever think of after setting them up. It would take a great deal to unseat these names in 2020 or beyond.
  • Wikipedia remains an everlasting source of information, and many of the top sites around the world are merely different language versions of the user-edited encyclopedia.

Video Streaming and Online Gaming

Many of you reading this article will use video streaming sites nearly every day, sometimes without even thinking about it. Similarly, online gaming has become about as popular, if not more than, going to the movies or watching television among specific demographics. These things are built into our online lives, and as such, it makes perfect sense to try and understand them.

  • YouTube, owned and operated by Google, is one of the undisputed largest and most important sites online. Here are a few stats to express this:
    • About 2 billion people every month are logged into YouTube, and people without accounts boost that number even higher.
    • Despite the small screens, 70 percent of YouTube views are on a mobile device.
    • YouTube is expensive to run, but the platform also will be expected to make about 5.5 billion in ad revenue in 2020.

Key YouTube Statistics

  • Similarly, video streaming outside of YouTube is becoming more popular.
  • Netflix has grown in subscribers every year since it started offering online streaming services.
  • Netflix also happens to use more bandwidth than nearly anything else online.
  • Yet while Netflix is often the first thing that comes to mind, it isn’t the only option. Disney Plus had a fantastic launch, even considering the resources backing it, with the service getting 28.6 million subscribers in February of 2020.

Before getting into online gaming statistics, it is important to note that while we don’t expect trends to change too much, the COVID-19 outbreak and related responses are causing many people to game more than ever. It will be an important year for gaming, especially pertaining to online multiplayer-focused games and digital distribution.

  • Gaming revenues surpassed those of Hollywood and any other popular entertainment industry. In fact, it surpassed those other industries combined, with gaming revenues expected to hit $165.9 billion in 2020.
  • Consider the number of monthly active users of Xbox Live, one of the largest online gaming services. While there are dips, the overall trend is upward, and the number might still increase due to the expected release of next-gen consoles later in 2020.

Monthly Xbox Live Users

  • And what has made online gaming skyrocket in recent years? Smartphones. Mobile games alone will account for more than half of gaming revenue in 2020.

Smartphones and the Internet of Things

We cannot talk about the internet without talking about smartphones. And it’s difficult to talk about smartphones without talking about the Internet of Things, which is growing in importance right under many people’s noses. To many people, their smartphone is more important than their home computer, laptop, and nearly any other possession, given the amount of information on it.

Here are a few stats about the little device you might be reading this on:

  • There are 5 billion mobile internet or smartphone users worldwide, which means that there are about as many smartphone-connected individuals as those with what we might consider a “normal” connection.
    • On top of this, 4.78 billion people use a mobile phone of some kind. It’s not hard to imagine them upgrading to a smartphone as soon as possible, whether for financial reasons or those relating to access.
  • A development to follow in the realm of smartphone technology is the rollout of 5G networks. While a minuscule number of people currently have access to 5G (mostly in a few major cities in limited capacities), as programs expand, we can expect the numbers to echo 4G and 3G networks’ rollout beforehand.
  • And as we have increased the use of 5G networks, other areas will continue to adopt 4G and 3G technology. This will give hundreds of millions (or even a few billion) of people access to mobile data speeds that allow them to stream high-quality videos, download larger files, or perform more complex tasks.

The number of Internet-connected devices is exploding, as is the number of apps allowing people with smartphones to control those devices. This has allowed for the wide expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT). Here are a few statistics to bring this concept into scope:

  • The total number of connected devices is staggering. It is expected that the number of devices will reach 25 billion by 2021, although the predictions on this metric frequently change (yet all estimates total high).
  • Perhaps you might have already heard of some medical devices (pacemakers, etc.) that connect to the internet in a limited capacity. Modern advancements are using the internet to provide live data to medical professionals in new and exciting ways. The health care IoT market is expected to reach $140 billion by 2024.
    • Given the enhanced need for telemedicine in 2020, some timelines on IoT devices and growth may be accelerated.
  • While we don’t have self-driving cars that are road-ready just yet, many vehicles connect readily to the internet, with that number increasing as more cars hit the road. The number of connected cars was 33 million in 2017 and will likely reach about 77 million by 2025.

When you get a chance, investigate your home and check to see how many devices are internet-connected or have internet connectivity options. Even many basic household appliances might be part of the IoT if they were made recently, think wifi-enabled trash can, for example.

Money, eCommerce, and a Digital Economy

Whether it takes the form of eCommerce, investments, or marketing dollars spent on one of the best ways to reach people in 2020, money is as prevalent online as it is anywhere else. This digital economy is relatively new compared to other industries, continually developing and ready for further investment. And while we might not see matters reach the level of the .com boom in previous decades, now the digital economy is being pushed by mobile technology and potential new services.

Here are a few statistics to explain how things are at the moment:

  • The eCommerce market is now worth trillions of dollars, and by 2021 sales are expected to reach 4.5 trillion dollars.

Worldwide eCommerce Sales by Year

Source

  • A trend many people may not be used to seeing in stores but will find rampant online is shopping cart abandonment. Three out of four carts online get abandoned, with businesses in all types of sectors desperately trying to figure out how to increase conversion rates.
  • While Amazon isn’t all of eCommerce, it is the dominant force. About 59 percent of millennials will first go to Amazon when looking for a product.
  • According to Nielsen, online shopping is a force for globalization, with 57 percent of internet shoppers having bought a product from overseas.

And as we head into the rest of 2020 and the increased need for online shopping, there will be even more growth than anticipated. The real test will be whether online retailers can keep up with increased demand and whether delivery systems will buckle under the strain.

Conclusion

There is no simple explanation for everything that is going on online, and there is no way any article can provide every bit of interesting information available. There’s just too much of it and too much to constantly keep track of, even for most professionals. We hope you’ll be able to gain a better general understanding of where the internet is and where it might go as a result of the information listed here. We encourage you to make further inquiries, keep your eyes out for developments, and always keep striving to inform yourself further.

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