As China modernizes its economy by leaps and bounds, the number of its Internet users keeps rising. Given the size of its population, at some point China will have more Internet users than the United States. We wonder: Which of the following statements are true?
A. China now has more Internet users than the United States
B. China still has 50 million fewer users
C. The difference in users is even larger than that
D. All of the above
A. China now has more Internet users than the United States is correct.
According to BDA China, a Beijing consultancy, China surpassed the total number of U.S. Internet users at the end of February 2008. According to these numbers, China now has 225 million users, compared to about 220 million in the United States.
Those numbers are largely based on projections drawn from estimates of the China Internet Network Information Center, which estimated that the number of users in China rose by 53%, from 137 million to 210 million, from the end of 2006 to the end of 2007 alone.
B. China still has 50 million fewer users is correct.
Other sources still see the United States ahead at the present juncture. According to the Computer Industry Almanac, the United States still has 50 million more users, as of year-end 2007.
These calculations are adjusted for the fact that the Chinese government data is based on a very loose definition of "Internet user" — which includes essentially anyone from the age of six onward that has used the Internet at least once over the previous six months.
C. The difference in users is even larger than that is correct.
Another company, ComScore — an Internet marketing research firm — still sees the United States ahead by over 65 million users, finding that there are 163 million users in the United States, compared to just under 98 million in China.
ComScore counts someone as an Internet user only when that user is 15 or older and has accessed the web from home or work at least once over the most recent month.
D. All of the above is correct.
In today's data-driven world, some numbers — for all the sources that are keeping count — are hotly contested and may differ widely.
Only one thing is for sure. No matter which definition is used to count a person as an Internet user, the Chinese are bound to surge ahead of the Americans on the tabs of all data providers soon enough — considering that their overall population is four times larger than that of the United States.