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7IM Short Thoughts: The Internet speaks English

Chris Justham, Managing Director, Intermediary Solutions08 Sep 2023

As of 2022, 5.2 billion people have access to the internet across the globe – broadly tracking the global population. That’s a lot of people!

But the language of the internet paints quite a different picture. Despite only 5% of the global population speaking English as their first language, up to 56% of the internet domains are in English.

Chris Justham looks at why this is and delves into the detail of first-mover advantage when it comes to the future of the internet.


There are 5 billion users of the Internet across the world. You're one of them right now. And when we look at where those users are based, broadly tracks with population, so think China, India, North America, Europe, the usual suspects, they take up a big piece of the pie when it comes to global mobile data.

When we look at the actual language used though, across the Internet, it paints quite a different picture. And that's because despite the fact that English is only spoken in their native tongue by 5% of the global population, it's used by 56% of Internet domains.

That is a massive dislocation. There's a big difference between common language and native tongue. And we think here, by the way, that a lot of the reason for this is because it was created by Americans and Brits. There's an element of first mover advantage. And that first mover advantage we think could become even more pronounced in the years to come. And that's because all of these smart chat bots that are coming into play, all this wonderful A.I. that's ended up dominating the news over the course of recent years, hoovering up all the information as we speak on the Internet using their language models. And if English is the dominant input, English will probably be the dominant output.

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