2014 Internet trends report
The most important slide deck you'll read all year.
There is way too much in here to cover quickly, but here are some of my key insights:
Less exploding, more evolving
The internet 'Big Bang' is slowing down at last. Besides a few recent land grabs, most of the prime real estate is taken and we have moved into an evolutionary phase involving tablet (+52%) and mobile growth (+81%).
We are very quickly approaching a point at which the entire planet will be connected by some kind of device (likely in their pocket or on their wrist).
What this means
- It's getting harder and harder to identify new audience segments (but they are definitely out there - here's something I'm building for one right now)
- If you're looking for truly explosive innovation, look to Asia & Africa
Lock the door and change your passwords
It's a simple equation.
More people on the internet = More opportunities for advertisers and arseholes.
Not everyone is out to hurt you, but digital advertising (+16%) and cyber threats are on the rise (300+ active threat groups) simply because we spend all our time connected to the internet these days.
You can look at this a number of ways, but a simple truth is that auctioning off our data to advertisers is what has kept the world's favourite services like Facebook and Google free to use all these years.
What this means
- If you're interested in (or terrified of) just how far the rabbit hole goes, read this recent post by Quinn Norton titled 'Everything is Broken'. Scary, but essential stuff
- If you just want a few quick tips on security, here's what I do:
- Buy a copy of 1Password (that's right, spend money on something boring)
- Use it to store your passwords offline in your phone, but more importantly, to generate strong and unique passwords for each different service you use on the internet (otherwise, you get this)
- Update your passwords every time you change the battery in your smoke alarm. If you do neither of these things... I can't help you.
- And finally, for those who are sick or worried about sharing too much data with advertisers, check out
PS. How funny would it be if cyber criminals wore a suit a tie to work like the predictably lame stock image above? "Bye Honey, I'll see you tonight... Have you seen my Balaclava?"
Web design is dead. Signal the rise of 'Device Design'.
I was recently asked by a client to 'make their website better'. Fortunately, they allowed me to spend some time analysing their usage statistics and audience feedback.
Eventually, I responded by saying "forget the web, nobody is even looking at your website. Let's write better emails and/or build an app".
Needless to say, not every case is so clear cut, but the vast majority of organisations are focused on maintaining a schmick looking website, with very little idea of where the traffic is coming from (or not knowing what to do with the information if they do know).
What this means
- Mobile is no longer an optional extra. Design for people using their mobile first (but you already knew that, right!?)
- If you have only ever used an iPhone to access the internet, get your hands on something different. If you're a Samsung kinda girl, borrow someone's iPad mini for a few hours before making any decisions about your company's 'web' design or comms strategy. In order to create anything we'd like to share, it's essential to become more familiar with the extensive distribution options available, rather than sticking to what we use personally
Silicon Valley is the capital of the world (for now)
Look at the graph above.
Nearly a quarter of people on earth are using a smart phone running software designed and run by companies based within a lazy 15 minute drive from one another.
With mobile usage still enjoying phenomenal growth, (25% of all web traffic worldwide, much higher in Asia and Africa) this means a significant proportion of the interactions we see every day online have been orchestrated by two - predominantly white and male led - companies in California.
Of course they have offices all over the world. But how can these two American-based organisations not view the world through extremely narrow lenses?
And then of course, there's social media.
There are 1.6 billion+ smartphones in the world.
There are 1.3 billion+ people on Facebook.
75% of all Facebook usage is outside the US.
What this means
- It's time to make some pen pals
- With the vast majority of it's active user base outside of the US, Facebook got a $16B bargain with What's App
- Language support may not be enough to keep other countries happy long term... I wonder what kind of phone Vladimir Putin uses?
- When a few people are charged with making decisions for everyone, they naturally become targets for disruption. Apple & Google are masters of re-invention (or, disrupting themselves) but there are fewer and fewer reasons why a brilliantly marketed Chinese or Brazilian startup can't be the replacement for many tech giants (particularly Facebook).
On a related note, I think we are about to see a preview of the Apple iWatch and/or connected home platform in just a few days. As a self-confessed Apple fanboy, I'm intrigued about the psychological split occurring with many others like me who jumped aboard the Apple bandwagon, only to be disappointed at their slower rate of innovation since Steve Jobs sad passing. I'd love to hear from anyone who has experienced a similar version of feeling torn between 'Do No Evil' and 'Designed in California'.
Personally - I'm holding out for one more year, because I genuinely believe that a medical-grade data interpretation device, with the ease of use and processing power of an iPhone on my wrist will be the next big evolutionary leap in a tech obsessed culture... But hey, I'm a dreamer.
If you'd like to understand more about this, or just shoot the breeze about the future of digital, let's grab a coffee, anytime.