Since the advent of the internet, the majority of its users have always used English. There are a lot of reasons for that. The internet's origins are in an English-speaking country, global perceptions are that English is an "international" language, heck, the coding languages that all websites are written in are even based in English. But in a few years, for the first time ever, English-speakers on the net will be in the minority.

The Chinese internet has been growing at a breakneck pace, with tens of millions of new users getting online in China each year. This year (2010), the Chinese internet saw an increase of 36 million domestic users. If that trend persists, the Chinese internet will have expanded beyond the English internet for the first time ever in just three years.

And there's plenty of reason to expect that trend will persist; this report from The Next Web (via Shanghaiist) suggests that the Chinese internet only has 32.6% market penetration, meaning that the majority of Chinese speakers aren't online yet and there's plenty of room to grow. With computers, mobile devices, and wireless access becoming more common by the minute, we figure the onset of Chinese-language dominance is inevitable.

Of course, your favorite English websites (including this one) aren't going to suddenly become Chinese. But it's an important developmental milestone, and another good reason for you to start learning Chinese!(For a much bigger and more detailed version of that awesome infographic, check out the original at The Next Web.)

Key words:
中文zhōng wén:Chinese
汉语hàn yǔ:Chinese
网络wǎng luò:Internet