The internet will have nearly 3 billion users, about 40 percent of the world's population, by the end of 2014, according to a new report from the United Nations International Telecommunications Union. Two-thirds of those users will be in developing countries.
Those numbers refer to people who have used the internet in the last three months, not just those who have access to it.
Internet penetration is reaching saturation in developed countries, while it's growing rapidly in developing countries. Three out of four people in Europe will be using the internet by the end of the year, compared to two out of three in the Americas and one in three in Asia and the Pacific. In Africa, nearly one in five people will be online by the end of the year.
Nearly 20 percent of Africa will be online by the end of the year
Mobile phone subscriptions will reach almost 7 billion. That growth rate is slowing, suggesting that the number will plateau soon. Mobile internet subscriptions are still growing rapidly, however, and are expected to reach 2.3 billion by the end of 2014.
These numbers make it easy to imagine a future in which every human on Earth is using the internet. The number of people online will still be dwarfed by the number of things, however. Cisco estimates the internet already has 10 billion connected devices and is expected to hit 50 billion by 2020.