Have you ever really considered how far a software or service has spread across the world? With hundreds of millions of users, the numbers almost become watered down and are difficult to quantify in a legible way.
So I took to the web, found some numbers, whacked open a vector graphic of Europe and started plugging numbers into it. The world has roughly 6.7 billion people, and Europe is just over 10% of that at roughly 830 million people. China and India have mind-blowingly big populations, but it doesn't give as much pizazz by filling in the same country over and over again. And I would have used the United States, but frankly it wasn't big enough.
Official, specific numbers of total users up to the minute are very difficult to get. More often than not, companies are either hesitant about giving out exact numbers because it could make them appear weak to competitors, and on the other hand because there are so many users, it's very difficult for them to keep up.
So these figures are 'best guess' and are rounded up or down based on previous data and trends. Granted, they aren't perfect but it at least gives you a broad view of roughly where they are and the scope they have worldwide.
Twitter (?200 million users)Since its conception, Twitter has racked up over 200 million users. Taken all account holders, this would take up the existing population of the entire United Kingdom, Ireland and most of Western Europe.
Windows Live Messenger (?305 million users)The world's largest dedicated instant messenger network, although one could argue that both Facebook chat and Skype chat capabilities have taken over, would spread further to Western and Northern Europe.
Facebook (?510 million users)The largest social network the world has ever seen, reaching 500 million users at the start of this month, would indicate that the entire population of the aforementioned plus Scandinavia and a large part of Eastern Europe also would be replaced with its users. Mashable's infographic shows that just under half of the entire United Kingdom population and a third of the United States is on Facebook.
Skype (?530 million users)Perhaps surprisingly, Skype has even more users being the largest VoIP operator in the world. The vast majority of Europe's population could be replaced by the entire user base of Skype.
Apple iTunes (?800 million users)iTunes is a tricky one. Everyone with a Mac has access to iTunes, and now that it's available on Windows, its spread is even farther. 500 million users were confirmed, and the claim that '1 million iTunes downloads' per day could indicate that it is even in the billions. Just to add a decent buffer of error, you can bet that all of Europe and Russia, totalling near the billion mark are using iTunes. Apple has not been forthcoming about their iTunes user base statistics, however.
Adobe Flash (?1.5 billion users upwards)Flash is available on all PC platforms, Linux and Mac OS X and is the most used web plug-in that the web has. Since its inception, it takes up at least over 95% of all computers on the planet. To make even a rough guess, this would be well over 1.5 billion users making this possibly even bigger than the Microsoft Windows platform. HTML5 isn't looking so great to takeover now, is it?
Of course, I could have filled in India or China to make the numbers up, but as the two are obviously excluded because they make map data look less pretty or interesting to look at, the two countries have a massive population. Even if half of each country were online, this would total nearly 1.3 billion - China's current population estimate for 2010 according to he CIA.
Perhaps all this is an argument for getting in there early with a brilliant software idea, and not limiting your venture to a single platform?