When disaster strikes, information need sets in

Oslo, Norway – April 19, 2011

In the middle of March, Japan was struck by one of the largest earthquakes in modern history and a devastating tsunami. Millions of lives were affected by the event, some directly by the force of nature, others by the need to obtain more information about their surroundings.

“It could be argued that the need for information is only surpassed by the need for food, security and shelter, especially in the times of crisis,” said Jon von Tetzchner, Co-founder, Opera Software. “Our logs showed a sharp increase in Opera Mini usage as information seekers in Japan sought out both news sources and certain corporate sites in the days following the earthquake.”

According to The State of the Mobile Web report, increase in visits to news-related sites shot up overnight, as one might expect, but other site increases are more interesting. On March 11, there was a massive surge for Twitter and Japanese meteorological sites while people tried to access the most current information on the situation. Two days after the earthquake, the website of TEPCO, the owner and operator of the Fukushima power plants, rose from obscurity into the top ten list of sites visited in March in times of the nuclear crisis and rolling blackouts in Tokyo.

To read the full report and our analysis on the change of web browsing patterns in a national crisis, go to http://www.opera.com/smw/.

Some highlights from the report

  • In March 2011, the Opera Mini browser had over 102.4 million users, a 14.1% increase from February 2011. The number of unique users has increased 85.4% year over year.
  • In the month of March, there was a lot of movement in the top 20 countries ranking (in terms of total Opera Mini users). Nigeria jumped to the #5 spot, Mexico shot up to #11, Egypt got to #16 and Bangladesh rose to #19.
  • Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia are among the top sites in the top countries of Europe.