History of the Internet Part 3 – Digital goes Mainstream 2011- 2020
The Internet is now entering its third decade and the new industries that piggybacked on this development included sin industries like porn and gambling that are multi-billion dollar segments of the digital ecosystems. The Porn industry is estimated at $5 Billion in the USA. Ad Fraud in ad networks became a major concern in this decade and it is also a multi-billion$ segment. The emergence of the dark web (invented by the USA government btw.) allowed illegal activities like the Silk Road site to sell illegal drugs that used bitcoin as digital currency for transactions, you can say this is the origin of e-commerce today.
Google entered the hardware market in 2011 with the Chromebook software that was used in low cost laptop computers that was connected to the cloud. This device has become a major staple in public schools due to its $200 price point. The app gold rush started to wind down by 2013 and a whole bunch of new technologies emerged to continue the internet gravy train.
QR codes was a innovation that started with a flash in 2001 and then disappeared in North America, but has made a huge impact in Asian countries especially in China as part the WeChat mobile app for personal security. QR codes are graphic icons that are scanned by your smartphone that goes to a specific URL.
In 2012, the Gangham Style video had over 1 billion views on YouTube. This video really brought YouTube mainstream as a dominant digital channel as it created a mystique that you can post a video on YouTube and become famous and wealthy. This started a video tidal wave gold rush mentality.
As the Internet got older more facts were learned about the ecosystem as we had the public web and dark web and we got to know a little bit of bot traffic – the non-human component of the internet. Bot traffic consists search engine spiders, spammers, fake profiles and click bots. This traffic is included in some web analytics as they cannot tell what is real and not real. It has been estimated 50% of web traffic are humans and the rest bots.
This decade saw the adoption of 4G speed wireless networks that enable broadband spread for the internet, this enabled smartphones to become more useful and became the primary device for most individuals. Smartphone traffic on the internet jump to 50% of all traffic by 2016. The term Smartphone Zombie emerged in 2016 to describes an individual personal relationship with the smartphone. In previous years it was Crackberry.
The hype for 5G Wireless networks began that offers fibre optic speeds or faster with higher bandwidth capability, in others words a high speed super size tunnel for the internet. The started the development of the “ Internet of Things“ devices like smart appliances can connect to the internet like your fridge or in self-driving cars.
The second of half of the decade the digital ecosystems was rocked with it share of scandals like ad fraud. Facebook revealed they had 3.2 Billion fake users on the website in 2019 and there was a growing misuse of fake news for political objectives in social media. Google and Facebook both took a blind eye to the rampant ad fraud as they profited from it. Facebook was accused in a court action in 2016 of inflating advertising metrics to the detriment of advertisers.
Government intervention was required to help deter the rampant ad fraud and hacker activity the CASL SPAM Regulations were released in Canada in 2017 and GDPR Email rules in 2018 that require for all digital communication to be permission based that include these of cookies. In January 2018 Procter & Gamble publicly stated that their are a lot of bad actors in the digital ecosystem.
Three new technologies emerged in 2017, virtual reality headsets, chatbots and artificial Intelligence as the latest hype from the tech industry. Earlier in the decade BIG Data and the cloud computing was the big hype. One of the milestones of AI was a computer beat a human in chess game in 2017.
New Apps for the smartphone emerged that provided free communication services like Whats App and We Chat in China. The WeChat app is unique as it allows mobile payments and QR codes as part of the person profile. The safety promises made by self driving cars took a big hit in 2016 when there was the first fatal accident. Drone technology took off in the later part of the decade and is now a military weapon of mass destruction.
With the introduction of 5G networks in Asia a concept called the “Smart City” emerged. These 5G networks allows the use of smart lampposts that is the cornerstone of a smart city. These lampposts connected to the internet can provide a wifi hotspot, video surveillance, sound/speakers, image sensing and a range of other features. Smart Cities is a vision of the future but critics of this technology say this is an invasion of privacy. They are now used in Hong Kong and they are viewed as a public spying tool and protests have been made damaging the posts in 2019.
As we enter 2020 what is emerging after the COVID-19 market disruption is that the economy will now be more digital centric as online shopping, curbside shopping and the closure of malls affects consumer behaviour. We will see the growth of consumer medical technology in 2020 with personal apps for medical screening in addition to medical screens in public events and airports. We will see the acceleration of the digital cloud infrastructures as companies will now have a higher percentage of remote workers in the next decade.
We look forward to the technological marvels that will be invented with the advent of 5G mobile networks in the coming decade.