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June 12, 2006

"India has the fourth largest Internet user base"

Or is it the 10th largest? Depends on who you ask.

According to the Computer Industry Almanac, India was in fourth place with 50.6 million Net users (and a 4.7% share), behind only the US (which, at almost 200 million users, has a 18.3% share), China (120 million, 11%) and Japan (86 million, 8%).

From the CIA's press release:

The worldwide number of Internet users surpassed 1 billion in 2005—up from only 45M in 1995 and 420M in 2000. The 2 billion Internet users milestone is expected in 2011. Much of current and future Internet user growth is coming from populous countries such as China, India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia. In the next decade many Internet users will be supplementing PC Internet usage with Smartphone and mobile device Internet usage. In developing countries many new Internet users will come from cell phone and Smartphone Internet usage. The U.S. continues to lead with nearly 200M Internet users at year-end 2005. The two most populous countries—China and India—are now in 2nd and 4th place in Internet users. Other populous countries such as Brazil, Russia and Indonesia have also moved into this ranking.

Internet user penetration is now in the 65% to 75% range for the leading countries and future growth is limited. Internet user penetration for the populous and developing countries is in the 10% to 20% range. The developing countries have room to grow and wireless web usage will account for much of future Internet user growth.

According to comScore Networks however, India is 10th among the "Top 15 Online Populations by Country". (The company's methodology is not known beyond the fact that it "excludes traffic from public computers such as internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs". Guess, not counting Internet cafes makes a huge difference in the measurement in countries like India).

Arun Natarajan is the Founder of Venture Intelligence India, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.