Billions of people already use the internet worldwide, and the number of internet users continues to grow. The majority of internet users are located in Asia; China and Indonesia are two expanding Asian markets, while Japan and South Korea were early adopters. South Korea boasts the fastest internet connection speed worldwide, and as of 2012, internet penetration in South Korea was 84.10 percent. Internet penetration in Japan reached 79.05 that year. The markets in the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China, have also shown strong development in internet usage. Internet penetration in India grew from 1.5 percent in 2002 to 13 percent by 2012.
Growth in the number of internet users worldwide has been strongly fuelled by pervasive mobile technology and the increasing availability of cheap technology in previous disconnected or under-connected markets. Smartphones and tablet devices have become important tools that further internet usage around the globe. It is predicted that three in four inhabitants of South Korea will have a mobile internet connection by 2016.
Increasing internet penetration and increased online usage possibilities are changing the lives of web users, enabling them to participate in online shopping, online video, online search, digital social networking and many other online-enabled activities. In October 2012, over 300 million users watched online videos on Youku, China’s leading online video website.
Meanwhile, many sectors of online activity are currently dominated by multi-billion dollar companies and transnational corporations like Google, Facebook or Amazon and their local pendants Baidu, Weibo or Rakuten. These companies’ positions as market leaders in their respective fields allow them to shape internet usage and online buying patterns of users worldwide.