According to this infographic, Chinese will become the internet's dominant language in five years. Obviously, every single webpage won't be in Mandarin, but it's a good reminder that China's rise as a cultural force shouldn't be ignored. [TheNextWeb via Gizmag]
The issue with this info is that practically all Chinese web content (other than dissident sites) is inside China, and the rest of the world not only doesn't use it, but isn't even aware it exists.
This is caused by the government control of the Internet. Do you know how many mainland Chinese use Facebook? Zero. It's blocked by the government. There might be a few technically savvy people who have figured out how to use secure proxies or Tor to get around the Great Firewall, but the vast majority don't.
There is an internal Chinese social networking site that very likely has more subscribers than Facebook, given China's overall population.
To imply that the rest of the world will have to learn Chinese because of the number of Chinese speaking Internet users is so large is inaccurate. All of that Chinese Internet activity is taking place inside the Chinese government's walled garden that they call the "Internet". It has very little to do with the rest of the world.
Now, had you made the argument that Chinese will eventually become a required business language due to the market clout of more than a billion consumers, as well as the manufacturing partners that most widget businesses will end up using, then I'd be with you on the whole Mandarin thing.
I'm going to make sure my kids learn Mandarin before they're too old to learn languages easily.