The World Wide Web is a global network of internet servers that process and communicate data via different means of access (i.e. cable or satellite). Invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, it has been central to the rise of the Information Age as it provides easy access to vast quantities of information to everyone with an internet connection.
Despite its name, however, the world wide web has never been truly global because many people lack access to it. Many less developed and/or scarcely settled countries and regions lack the infrastructure to provide internet access to people’s homes, depriving millions of people of access to a vital means of communication and information. This is where mobile devices, and smartphones in particular, come into play. Over the past few years, smartphones have enabled countless, previously “disconnected” people to access the internet, bringing the world wide web a bit closer to reaching its namesake global reach.
According to a recent comScore report, 70 percent of internet users in India access the web exclusively via mobile devices, illustrating the importance of smartphones and feature phones to widespread internet access. As our chart illustrates, the percentage of mobile-only internet users is similarly high in Indonesia, but significantly lower in highly developed countries in North America and Europe. While the underlying comScore study was limited to 13 markets, we can expect Indonesia and India to be representative for many other regions across Asia and Africa, where web access is not to be taken for granted.