The Global Impact of the Internet: What Would You Give up to Keep it Around?
By 2016, there will be three billion Internet users across the globe, according to a new study by The Boston Consulting Group. That’s half the world’s population!
The study focused on Internet use by consumers and businesses in the G20 countries, which includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S. In 2010 alone, the Internet accounted for $2.3 trillion (4.1% of the GDP) and surpassed the economies of Italy and Brazil. In the U.K., the Internet’s contribution to the 2010 GDP is more than that of construction and education.
The Internet powers growth and creates jobs, and most freelancers use the Internet constantly. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to write for FreelanceSwitch!
I clearly remember in 1995 when my best friend’s family got the Internet on their home computer. We were enthralled with it, despite it’s limitations. What the heck was AOL? We thought the Internet was a place where you could talk to complete strangers on the other side of the country—which you could do then and can do now—and had no idea it would become so much more.
I didn’t have an email address until I went to college in 1996. I remember dialing up in my college dorm room (on my roommate’s computer…because I didn’t have one) late at night. The scratches and screams and beep beep beep of the connection line. I would get SO ANGRY when the connection was lost. Things took forever to load back then, and I’m amazed at how patient we all were.
Today is different. We don’t have to sit in front of our desktop computer to get the Internet. We can actually carry the Internet in our pockets. It’s this broadening access to the Internet that is further compounding it’s impact on our everyday lives.
How users in some countries are adopting social networking
Social network growth in China is exploding, outnumbering all other G20 countries. Social networking is strong in the countries of India, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia, and South Africa.
People who live in the countries of Italy, Germany, the U.S., Australia, France, Canada, and the U.K. aren’t adopting social networking as ferociously as the countries above. They are using both social sites as well as mainstream, traditional media. And while Japan is seeing a huge growth in adopting social networks, they, along with South Korea, are heavy users of more traditional, conversational media.
Which country has the most vibrant Internet economy today?
Here’s the list of countries and the corresponding GDP:
- U.S. : $14.5 trillion
- China : $5.9 trillion
- Japan : $5.5 trillion
- Germany: $3.3 trillion
- France : $2.6 trillion
- U.K. : $2.3 trillion
In our view, every business needs to “go digital”—and fast. Policymakers, too, should pay heed. Given SME’s [small and medium enterprises] track record in job creation, policies that encourage more of these companies to develop an online presence could help address the lingering unemployment that currently characterizes the recovery in many countries.—Boston Consulting Group
Many freelancers couldn’t do their job without the Internet. Just look at how publishing, photography, graphic design, and many more industries have dramatically changed because of it. Heck, many of us can’t even stand to be offline for any length of time. Our week-long honeymoon in Tenerife almost drove my husband crazy—he couldn’t read the news on his iPhone!
The BCG study also weighed the Internet’s importance on our daily lives. The poll of Americans found some staggering statistics of what they would give up to keep the Internet.
- 84% would give up satellite navigation
- 83% would give up fast food (which isn’t a bad thing, is it?)
- 77% would give up chocolate
- 73% would give up alcohol
- 69% would give up coffee
- 43% would give up exercise
- 21% would give up sex
- 10% would give up their car
- 7% would even give up showering
I’d give up a lot for the Internet…but chocolate? Sex? I know that the Internet impacts you on a daily level, so what would YOU give up to keep it around?