According to "The Face of the Web," a study published Wednesday by market researcher Ipso Insight, the global online population grew a modest 5 percent from 2004 to 2005, short of the 20 percent growth rate reported in last year's survey. The number of people expecting to access the Net during the coming 12 months was about the same in 2005 and 2004, "indicating (that) prospects for growth in 2006 may be just as temperate," the study said.
For the report, a random sampling of more than 6,500 adults were surveyed in November and December in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, the U.K. and the United States.
Japan remains the world's No. 1 Internet-based economy with nearly nine in 10 people claiming to have used the Internet in the past 30 days and users averaging nearly 14 hours per week online, the study said.
Chinese Internet users surveyed averaged 17.9 hours per week online, while only 50 percent accessed the Internet in the past 30 days, far behind Japan at 89 percent and South Korea at 68 percent, the survey found.
France witnessed the most significant year-over-year gains in Internet adoption among the markets tracked, with just more than 60 percent of adults using the Internet regularly, up from 48 percent in 2004, according to the survey results. Future growth in wireless Internet access via mobile phone looks promising in France and the U.K., while use of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was rising steadily in those two countries as well as in Germany, the study found.
Growth in the number of Internet users appeared to plateau in North America, where regular Internet usage of about 70 percent was essentially flat with the year before. However, the rising level of notebook PC ownership is fueling growth in wireless Internet access. At least one-third of North Americans surveyed said they accessed the Internet wirelessly in the past 30 days.