Over the past twenty years, VPNs have been beneficial. They provide internet security for people worldwide while offering benefits like the ability to stream content from other countries. For a while, they seemed to be growing in popularity rapidly.
Their popularity made sense five to ten years ago. We were starting to come to terms with the lack of online privacy we were all subject to. There was also a lot of content missing from streaming libraries, depending on where you lived.
However, in 2022, these needs have not always been as apparent. Online security is more important than ever, but most people have stopped thinking about it because their data is already out there. Furthermore, with the wealth of streaming services now providing ample content everywhere, choosing a VPN server in another country is no longer applicable.
You may well believe VPNs have lost popularity, especially if you haven’t seen an advert or sponsored video for them lately. However, this assumption is not necessarily true.
How many people are using a VPN?
There is a good chance that you, reading this, have a VPN installed on your device. Whether or not you use it, you’ve paid an annual fee and know it’s there. Occasionally, you turn it on when feeling particularly concerned about your privacy.
This is true of so many people that it may be the reason you no longer see as many adverts, articles, or sponsored videos for VPNs. The target market is not fully captured – something impossible in 2022 – but those who are likely to be swayed by a sponsored post are likely to have a subscription already.
The data backs this up. How many people use a VPN? According to the statistics, 31% of all internet users worldwide use VPNs. This amounts to approximately 1.2 billion VPN users. In terms of the value of the VPN industry, it was estimated at $31.1 billion at the end of 2021.
This data is almost incomplete, considering that VPN use is necessarily incognito, especially in certain countries. However, this also highlights a substantial target market for VPNs.
Who is using VPNs?
Considering that at least 1.2 billion people use VPNs, it is safe to assume that there are VPN users everywhere. However, there are concentrations of users in certain countries which has to do with internet freedom.
For example, 61% of Indonesian internet users use a VPN. In Indonesia, internet freedom is severely limited. Some ISPs even ban Netflix and other streaming services.
As such, a VPN is necessary simply to access information. In addition, a VPN allows users to view content critical of the Indonesian government without fear of reprisals. The government has taken punitive action against critics in the past, and police have raided the homes of individuals visiting sites that are banned.
Indonesia is far from the worst country in terms of internet freedom. Countries including China, Belarus, Iraq, and North Korea ban or strictly regulate VPNs. As a result, many residents are only able to download VPNs when they are outside the country.
VPNs still play a crucial role in politics and online freedom worldwide. So it also makes sense that the target market in these countries will not come across VPNs due to sponsored content to which they will not have access.
VPN news in 2022
There has been some very important VPN news in 2022, showing just how relevant and active the industry is. The biggest story has been the merger of Nord Security (which owns NordVPN) and Surfshark. Surfshark is one of the newest VPN providers and got a lot of traction due to its super-low prices.
This is not necessarily a good thing. While the products will remain independent, one organization will have more access to data than any VPN provider probably should. However, NordVPN has a healthy track record, and Nord Security may improve the trustworthiness of Surfshark.
Another big story in the VPN sphere is NordVPN’s new Meshnet feature. As reported in the media, this feature allows you to create a specific private network for multiple devices worldwide. It gives users more control over their network rather than simply choosing a random server whenever they connect.
Should you use a VPN?
It is still essential in terms of your usage of a VPN. Cybersecurity is more of a concern than ever before. Every internet user is at risk of their data being exposed, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Unfortunately, we have become desensitized to giving up our privacy, but this is not good.
While you may not need a VPN to get extra content on Netflix and are unlikely to face government reprisals for looking at range in a free country, a VPN subscription is still vital. If you have one you do not use regularly, you should consider turning it on by default. At the very least, you should use it when using public WiFi or torrenting content.
A VPN is not expensive in 2022, with good VPNs costing little more than $2 a month if you go for two-year subscriptions. On the expensive end, you will pay less than $100 for two years of usage. It is worth the money, even if you are not particularly concerned about privacy.