According to a Press Release by comScore Networks that was picked up by a couple of wire news services, 694 million people in the world, over 15, “used the Internet worldwide from all locations in March 2006” (or so the Press Release claims). Problem is, this figure excludes traffic from public computers such as Internet cafes and access from mobile phones or PDAs!
So essentially, 694 million people are those who access the ‘net and the web through their own PC’s, whereas, as numerous studies show, those in the developing world and esp. in countries such as China access the ‘net through Cybercafes and mobile phones. Furthermore, this figure is far less than what other studies, also updated in March 2006 suggest to be the total number of users of the ‘net and web.
Polls such as this, which don’t take into consideration the modes of access in developing countries, offer little for any serious study into the digital divide or accurate patterns of usage and access. I wish those who conduct polls such as this, especially based in the Global North, had a better understanding of what it is they were polling, without passing off drivel as fact and a severely restricted understanding of the evolving patterns of use and access of the web leading to the most egregious errors in analyses.