Friday, January 16, 2009

300m online in China

The big news this week was the publication of a new internet survey on China showing that the number of Chinese accessing the internet had grown to 298m in 2008, a rise of 42% year on year.

(Here is a link to the data on my stats blog. On the CNNIC site you can also download a full 170 page report on the data, but so far this is in Chinese only. It usually takes a couple of weeks to the report to be published in English).

I believe that this is a crucial moment in World history. To put the figure into context, the population of the US is approximately 303m, so now there are essentially as many people online in China as are there people in the US, and the Chinese internet population is growing at a rate of 2m a week.

In his recent book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the provenance of when & where someone is born. For example 14 of the richest 75 people to have ever lived are Americans born within 9 years of each other in the mid-nineteenth century (pg 61). Or, in another example, 9 of the titans of the personal computer industry (Gales, Jobs, Ballmer, Joy et al) were born between 1953 and 1956.

These were the people born at just the right time to take advantage of a massive change in technology and society, the people old enough to exploit it, but young enough not to be too settled and established to take risks and work 20 hour days.

I think that the new elite may be the people currently aged 10-14 in China, discovering the internet for the first time, with hours and hours to devote to learning how to do things, and lots of friends all wanting to do the same thing.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails