[TechRepublic] Internet Trends 2016: Keep an eye on messaging, UI, big data, and connected cars

Prominent venture capitalist Mary Meeker recently delivered her annual Internet Trends presentation. Here are the top takeaways for the enterprise. messaging.jpg

As the internet continues to seep into almost every aspect of our daily lives, the way we use it as a tool and platform undoubtedly changes. And these changes, though they happen over time, can have serious implications for businesses.

Mary Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers, delivered her Internet Trends report for 2016 on Wednesday at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The report outlines global trends in internet use, as well as shifts in the way the internet is used as a tool for business.

An annual occurrence for Meeker, this year’s edition is 213 slides long. For those who may not have time to pore over every line, here are some of the key points from the presentation.

1. Messaging is growing and evolving

Messaging apps and platforms are growing rapidly in both the number of users they have and the amount of time being spent on them. WhatsApp is leading the charts, followed by Facebook Messenger, and then WeChat.

Internet web and chat platforms, and social media, are the preferred way to reach Generation Y customers, which presents a great opportunity for business to use messaging and chat apps to expand their customer base. Additionally, Meeker noted, messaging apps are increasingly becoming the “second home screen” for many users, meaning businesses must target these apps to stay in front of their customers.

2. Interface changes

Over the past few decades, the primary way in which we interact with the internet, and our computers in general, hasn’t changed dramatically. We’ve gone from physical keyboards to touch screens, but the action itself hasn’t changed—until now.

Voice input is dramatically changing the way we use our devices and, in turn, the internet itself. Voice input is faster and easier than typing, and can be better personalized. It does require natural language processing (NLP), but it has a low cost and footprint. In theory, Meeker wrote that it “should be the most efficient form of computing input.”

While still in the early days, voice recognition accuracy is improving quickly and the use of mobile voice assistant and voice search queries are growing exponentially. In quoting Baidu’s Andre Ng, Meeker’s slide said that, by 2020, 50% of all searches will be either voice or image searches. As Meeker also pointed out, iPhone sales dropped for the first time in a decade or so in 2016, while Amazon Echo sales continue to climb.

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3. Transportation

Automotive technology is advancing, and the car could become the next big computing platform. Today’s connected cars are already making a splash in the market, with companies like Apple and Google competing to become the connectivity partner of choice.

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