Wikipedia targets one billion users by 2015

Feb 04, 2013
Jay Walsh speaks at an interview at the University of Tokyo on Sunday. Wikipedia is aiming to use mobile phones to reach a billion people by 2015, a senior executive has said, doubling the present number.

Wikipedia is aiming to use mobile phones to reach a billion people by 2015, a senior executive has said, doubling the present number.

The rapid spread of in the is providing fertile ground for this expansion, even as it robs the site of potential editors, Jay Walsh, senior director of communications at the , told AFP in Tokyo.

Reaching people in far-flung parts of the world where computers are scarce requires a pared down, text-only version of the collaborative , he said.

"It's surprisingly challenging to take your website and make it available on the simplest phone," Walsh said on the sidelines of a conference in the Japanese capital on Sunday.

"In areas like the Middle East, opening your phone and accessing a project like Wikipedia could cost you the equivalent of the couple of US dollars, which is a serious amount of money in those countries.

"We're trying to eliminate that barrier so people don't have to think about that," he said, adding the site's global audience stood at around 483 million.

Tie-ups with such as France-based Orange and VimpelCom of the Netherlands, are driving this expansion, penning deals that mean waiving data charges for customers accessing the site, in an initiative called Wikipedia Zero.

Homepages of the Wikipedia website, pictured in Hong Kong last year. The rapid spread of cellular networks in the developing world is providing fertile ground for this expansion, even as it robs the site of potential editors, Jay Walsh, senior director of communications at the Wikimedia Foundation, told AFP in Tokyo.

According to figures from Morgan Stanley, the number of mobile phones and other portable devices accessing the Internet will overtake the number of laptops and desktops this year.

But while browsing is easy on a handset, editing a page on a small screen and without a is more of a challenge.

The number of active editors—someone who edits a page at least five times a month—peaked on the English language site in 2007 at 50,000, he said, adding it has been in decline ever since and now stands at around 33,000.

"There's a sense of the project being finished," he said.

Executives hope Wikipedia Zero will help rebalance the editorial brain drain, expanding into markets where local versions of the site remain in the start-up phase. The Swahili language version of —one of the 285 available—has just 88 active editors.

But, admits Walsh, the constraints of the as a tool for editing, remain a big hurdle.

"Our main focus is on the technological infrastructure to make it easy for this to work," he said. "It's about big ideas, bringing about change and making the world a better place."

Explore further: Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wikipedia launches iPhone application

Aug 20, 2009

Wikipedia said it has released an iPhone application as part of a drive to open the pages of its revered online encyclopedia to the booming ranks of smart phone users.

Wikipedia eyes India for language growth

Nov 09, 2011

Wikipedia on Wednesday said it was banking on growth in the mobile phone sector and increased Internet access to boost content in Indian languages ranging from Hindi to Telugu.

Wikipedia losing editors, study says

Jan 04, 2013

Wikipedia, one of the world's biggest websites, is losing many of its English-language editors, crippling its ability to keep pace with its mission as a source of knowledge online, a study says.

Recommended for you

Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

16 hours ago

People on Facebook and Twitter say they are less likely to share their opinions on hot-button issues, even when they are offline, according to a surprising new survey by the Pew Research Center.

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

Aug 23, 2014

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

Aug 22, 2014

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

Aug 22, 2014

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

How much do we really know about privacy on Facebook?

Aug 22, 2014

The recent furore about the Facebook Messenger app has unearthed an interesting question: how far are we willing to allow our privacy to be pushed for our social connections? In the case of the Facebook ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

Aug 22, 2014

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

User comments : 0