The Biggest Internet Trends to Watch

Every May, Mary Meeker presents her highly anticipated 300+ slideshow presentation at the annual Code Conference in Silicon valley where she reveals what she thinks this coming years’ tech trends will be. Here’s an overview of her annual Internet trends report you know what to watch out for over the next 12 months.

Voice Tech Gets big

Meeker said we’ve hit “technology liftoff” with machine learning word accuracy. This means that there are vast improvements in natural language processing (NLP) and text-to-speech translation which underpin the voice interfaces in digital assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant.

Data Privacy Backlash

Meeker discussed the privacy paradox between improving digital experiences through personalisation and data whilst maintaining data privacy in a post-Cambridge Analytica and GDPR age.

“Data sharing creates multifaceted challenges where the majority of users will share data if it presents clear personal benefits.” Meeker said. So when the benefits are less clear to users, we are now more likely to delete apps, adjust privacy settings, disable cookies, and so on. And as GDPR comes into force, here in Europe businesses need to be mindful and open to change if things go wrong.

The Rise of Digital Currencies

The report looks at the exponential growth in users for the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange as indicative of the larger rise in digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, or any of the hundreds of other coins being us in this market.  Value and prices may fluctuate wildly but overall activity is only trending upwards

The growth of Chinese Tech

China is catching up as a hub to the world’s biggest internet companies. Five years ago, China had two internet companies in the top 20 in terms of market value, compared to nine for the US. Move to 2018 and China is home to nine of the world’s 20 biggest internet companies. China is also growing it’s active internet users compared to the rest of the world, and is gaining on artificial intelligence development because of the government’s heavy focus on AI research.

The On-Demand Economy is booming

“On-demand jobs are filling needs for workers who want extra income, flexibility, and have underutilised skills.”

With figures from Intuit, Meeker said the on-demand workforce in the US will rise from 5.4 million in 2017 to an estimated 6.8 million in 2018. Companies that use this on-demand workfoce are seeing a huge growth platform – Uber now has 3 million monthly driver partners, Airbnb has 5 million monthly listings, and Upwork has 16 million freelancers in the growing market.

Internet user growth slows

2017 was the first year that internet user growth levelled off year-on year – it rose by 7% in 2017, down from 12% in 2016. With more than half the world online, there are fewer people left to connect. However people are still increasing the amount of time they spend online. The average U.S. adults spent 5.9 hours per day on digital media in 2017, up from 5.6 hours the year before –  over 55% of those hours were spent on mobile, which is responsible for overall growth in digital media consumption.