The chart shows the number of internet users in the world, including the historical data (blue dots) from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and areppim forecast until 2025 (red S-shaped line).
According to the forecast model, the total number of internet users might reach a saturation volume of 2.1 billion, equivalent to about 1 user for every 3 adults (15 year and older), in 2025. The growth has been exponential until 2008, when the volume reached 1.5 billion users. After this inflexion point, growth started to decelerate and may reach a plateau by 2019.
Technology diffusion is often off-tracked by the disruptive effects of other emerging technological revolutions. In musing about the future of internet one may consider a scenario by which a new technology renders internet obsolete in the way the latter made telefax a vestige of the past, or an alternative scenario in which the diffusion of a complementary technology, for example the mobile phone, will lend internet a second and even more invasive life.
The forecast uses a logistic growth function based on ITU series, two key parameters being a slope coefficient calculated by the least squares procedure and a saturation point estimated by bootstrapping. The internet started before 1990, although its use was practically restricted to academic, research and public office segments. The fact that ITU statistics do not cover the early years, as well as the unclear span of the variable "user" — does it include mobile internet? how does it account for family use of one single subscription? or multiple use of one cybercafé subscription? — influences the forecast model, though it is impossible to tell in what way and how deeply.
Number of Internet Users
|¹ Logistic growth function|
Source: ITU International Telecommunications Union
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