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February 5, 2013

Wikipedia expects mobile to help reach a billion users by 2015

Wikipedia's target is twice the current number of users

By CBR Staff Writer

Wikipedia is aiming to use mobile phones to achieve its target of about one billion users by 2015, which will be twice the number of current users.

AFP cited Wikimedia Foundation senior director of communications Jay Walsh as saying that the rapid spread of cellular networks in the developing world is providing fertile ground for this expansion.

"It’s surprisingly challenging to take your website and make it available on the simplest phone," Walsh said.

"In areas like the Middle East, opening your phone and accessing a project like Wikipedia could cost you the equivalent of a 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.

According to Wikipedia, to reach users in remote areas of the world requires a small, text-only version of the online encyclopaedia.

The move is supported by the company’s tie-ups with telecommunications providers including Orange and the Netherlands based VimpelCom, while the company is signing deals to waive data charges for customers using the site, as part of its initiative known as Wikipedia Zero.

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According to reports, users accessing the internet through mobile phones and other portable devices are expected to surpass the number of users who access it through laptops and desktops in 2013.

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