The number of global internet users has reached saturation point with half the world’s population now online, according to a new report.
Around 3.6 billion people are connected to the internet, but the number of new users has slowed from double digits year-on-year to 7% from 12 % in 2017.
Smartphone sales are also in decline after reaching a peak in 2010, with zero growth in sales last year, says an internet trends report from US online business consultants Kleiner Perkins.
But technology advances driven by data collection have hit a privacy paradox, says the firm.
The report highlights that internet users in the USA spend an average 5.9 hours a day online – 3.3 hours on their mobiles, 2.1 hours on laptops and 0.6 hours through other devices.
Cryptocurrency is emerging technology
The research also found digital currencies are an emerging technology, with the largest exchange, US-based Coinbase hitting 10 million users.
Voice controlled devices are also experiencing a sale bonanza, with 30 million Amazon Echo products installed in just two years, and the hardware’s skills soaring from zero in 2015 to more than 30,000 apps in 2017.
Personalised apps are also driving growth, although regulators and users are concerned about privacy.
Although personalisation offers a better experience for users, fears over misuse of data are driving regulators to act.
“Internet usage growth is solid while many believe it’s higher than it should be. Reality is the dynamics of global innovation and competition are driving product improvements, which, in turn, are driving usage and monetisation. Many usability improvements are based on data – collected during the taps and clicks a user makes which creates the paradox,” says the report.
“Internet Companies continue to make low-priced services better, in part, from user data. Internet users continue to increase time spent on Internet services based on perceived value. Regulators want to ensure user data is not used ‘improperly.’
Scrutiny is rising on all sides – including users, businesses and regulators. Technology-driven trends are changing so rapidly that it’s rare when one side fully understands the other, setting the stage for reactions that can have unintended consequences. And, not all countries and actors look at the issues through the same lens.”