5 Numbers Behind the Current State of the Internet

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Some numbers simply defy our understanding. One such number made the news earlier this month, when an unheralded organization known as the Internet Society announced there are now 340 trillion trillion trillion unique addresses on the Internet (that’s 340 undecillion in mathematician talk). And why, you may ask, do we need 340 undecillion Internet addresses? Those who help regulate the Internet, including the non-profit Internet Society, have fretted for years about running out of unique IP addresses. To solve this dilemma, the organization has unveiled a new Internet Protocol, known as IPv6, and officials estimate the new system will provide enough new IP addresses for everyone in the world to have a billion billion IP addresses for every second of their life. With these ridiculous numbers being thrown about, we decided to take a look at some other numbers that might help define the current state of the Internet. Don’t worry — we won’t use any more obscure figures such as undecillion.


5. 3.5 Million Americans Still Use AOL Dial-Up Internet Access

Millions of Americans still use dial-up connections to access the Internet.

Photo credit: CCA-SA 3.0 Bortzmeyer

This figure probably come as a shock to the majority of Americans who’ve been using broadband Internet access for almost a decade, Yet several million Americans, predominately older, rural and poorer residents, are still stuck in the Stone Age of Internet access. And while AOL says it lost more than 600,000 dial-up customers in 2011, an additional 200,000 new customers signed up for the service. If that 3.5 million sounds a bit high, it’s nothing compared to an FCC survey taken in late 2009 that found that 80 million American adults either still used dial-up Internet service or did not use the Internet at all at home.


4. 472 Million Smart Phones Sold in 2011

Worldwide sales of smartphones topped PCs for the first time in 2011.

Photo credit: © Daniel Schweinert/Dreamstime.com

The PC is not dead — yet — but 2011 marked a watershed year in the computer industry. For the first time, smart phones outsold PCs. Sales estimates vary, but according to market research firm Gartner, 472 million smartphones were sold in 2011. That compares to an estimated 353 million PCs shipped worldwide. And those smart phones have ushered in a revolution in how we access and use the Internet, changing our lives in ways we wouldn’t have dreamed possible only a few years ago.


3. 613 Million Websites in the World

There are an estimated 613 million websites worldwide three times as many as just two years ago.

Photo credit: © Haywiremedia/Dreamstime.com

According to Netcraft.com, a UK Internet research firm, there were 613 million websites worldwide as of February 2012. That figure is up sharply from mid-2010, when there were around 200 million websites. Some of these sites you may use almost every day (Google.com, Facebook.com, etc.) However, roughly two thirds of those are inactive sites, domain names that have either been registered for speculative purposes, or registered by domain companies such as GoDaddy.com to sell at a later date.


2. 901 Million Facebook Users

Facebook has more than 900 million active monthly users.
Some financial analysts question the future growth and profit potential of this Internet giant, especially in the wake of its IPO in May 2012. And many users complain about the company’s frequent format changes, or they worry about privacy issues. But most users keep coming back, with tens of millions more joining each year. In a corporate filing released in April 2012, the company claimed 901 million monthly active users, up roughly one-third from a year ago. And while the growth in new Facebook users in the U.S. has slowed, that could change with the recent announcement that Facebook may allow children under age 13 to open an account with parental permission (because we all know there are no children currently using Facebook, right, wink, wink?) Add hundreds of millions of potential new Facebook users in developing countries such as India, and one day, possibly China — where it is currently banned — and it becomes apparent why some investors were willing to pay a premium for Facebook stock when it began trading.


1. $161.5 Billion Spent On E-Commerce in the U.S. in 2011

An estimated $162 billion was spent on e-commerce in 2011.

Photo credit: © Oleg Shipov/Dreamstime.com

comScore Inc., a firm specializing in measuring digital commerce, estimates that record $161.5 billion e-commerce figure represents a 13-percent increase over 2010. Not surprisingly, the biggest day of the year in online retail sales came on so-called Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving), when U.S. consumers racked up $1.251 billion in e-commerce, according to comScore. By the way, that $161.5 billion excludes auctions, autos, large corporate purchases and travel-related expenses.

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