Exploring Internet Trends in 2017

Discovering 2017’s major Internet trends

This year, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of change across the Internet, personally, politically and commercially, in a way that’s hard to avoid noticing. Back in May, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins released their annual Internet Trends report, highlighting the developing ways in which the Internet was being used. As we come to the end of 2017, we’ve taken a look back through the trend report, checking how trends have subsequently developed - and the implications they have beyond the report.

It’s no surprise that the number of people using the Internet globally keeps on growing, with an estimated 3.4 billion users in 2017, representing a flat 10% year on year growth, or an approximate doubling since 2009. At the same time, it appears that the smartphone market may largely be saturated, with just a 3% increase in shipments, a 6th consecutive year of dropping rates. However, Internet users are becoming increasingly engaged, with the average American user now online 5.6 hours per day, with an increasing 3.1 of those being spent on mobile (compared to the relatively static 2.2 hours spent on desk/laptop).

Also perhaps unsurprisingly, the amount being spent on Internet advertising has been steadily increasing, apparently having now overtaken TV advertising globally, with that increase nearly entirely being located within mobile advertising, as companies move to capture the larger amount of time users spend online via smartphone.

However, it’s definitely worth considering the increasing backlash to online advertising - worldwide, the number of people using adblocking software has shot up over the years, with over 200 million blocking ads on desk/laptop, and mobile adblocker users having shot up to just under 400 million, a figure that’s near-certain to increase as concerns about data privacy and malware embedded in ads grows.

The Streaming Market in 2017 and Beyond

The ever-increasing availability of digital media through providers like Netflix and Spotify has led to a high increase in subscriber numbers and profitability, as they start to overshadow traditional media providers, with subscription streaming in America now fully half the size of the home video sales market, a figure that’s been consistently growing.

However, it’s worth taking some time to consider the concerns of a potential splintering effect across streaming services, as more and more groups work to create their own services, bringing in more potential revenue, while removing their content from other services to promote exclusive material - consider the emergence of Disney’s streaming service for an example. It seems likely that in the coming years, the market for streaming will significantly change, with the main question being as to whether customers as a whole are willing to pay for an increasing number of services.

Over the last few years, businesses have been getting more and more invested in using Cloud-based services and storage, with 2016 seeing a full 37% of global IT infrastructure spending going to Cloud services, up from 33% the year before.

In fact, the report states that the average business uses hundreds of Cloud apps, covering areas ranging from off-site storage to software development, marketing and collaborative work. Cloud engagement varies between business sectors, with some of the key sectors depicted on the graph from the report below, demonstrating the importance of Cloud technology to modern day enterprises.

Demonstrating the number of Cloud apps used by some industry sectors, including the 1206 used by the average retailer, restaurant or hospitality company

Cybersecurity in 2017

At this point, it’s worth considering the state of cybersecurity in the present day. With a seemingly unending stream of high profile data breaches and cyber attacks across the year (including one discovered while this article was being written), from Wanacry to Petya, Equifax and more, cybersecurity is regularly at the forefront of the news - and should be given similar importance in schools and businesses, with an effective cybersecurity policy being absolutely essential.

Along with the major incidents covered in the news, there’s several major factors behind the increase in cybercrime and data breaches - we’ve highlighted a few to be aware of:

Increasing Anonymity: Traditionally, one of the most difficult parts of any money-based criminal enterprise is securely getting hold of the cash. However, with the rise of somewhat untraceable cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, criminals have a significantly less difficult time receiving payments - though given the sheer number of cryptocurrency-stealing malware programmes and the relative lack of liquidability across cryptocurrency, it’s not entirely clear how successful this move has been for cybercriminals in real-world terms.

The Rise of Unsecured IoT: Across the last year, we’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which report to/ can be controlled online. While there’s some great gadgets out there, many devices aren’t designed with security in mind, making them vulnerable to cybercriminals. This vulnerability typically involves affected devices being used as part of a botnet, with large numbers of devices set up to DDoS a particular target, overloading and taking down servers. It’s important to know that any IoT devices you use are secure - this free BullGuard IoT scanner utility can help you check any current devices.

Unsecured Storage: While many data breaches are the result of malicious activity, many more are simply the result of files being stored insecurely, this week’s Alteryx breach being just the latest. With businesses increasingly moving to off-site Cloud storage, it’s increasingly common to see private files left completely exposed due to misconfigured storage. It’s important to understand how your Cloud storage works, and ensure that files are stored in a completely secure way.

What to expect across the Internet in 2018

While there’s no way to completely predict the future, there’s a few key points that we expect to see developing across 2018.

As we’ve mentioned, there’s a potential for some tension within the streaming market as multiple organisations look to develop their personal takes on streaming - expect that to significantly develop following the Disney/ 21st Century Fox takeover, a move that’s largely considered to be laying the groundwork for the launch of a major new streaming service.

We’re fairly certain that questions around data privacy and advertising are going to intensify over the coming year, with more and more starting to become alienated by certain forms of advertising, particularly given the various ongoing governmental enquiries into the use of social media marketing across the world. The implementation of GDPR, set for May 2018, is set to change things up considerably here, giving customers the right to have their information forgotten, while introducing somewhat tighter controls over how data can be collected, stored and used.

Across businesses and schools, we expect a significant increase in the use of Cloud applications and systems, at least partially powered through the increasing availability of ultrafast, symmetrical connectivity like our DarkLight service. Essentially, symmetrical connectivity delivers upload speeds as fast as downloads, significantly opening up access to Cloud-based storage and services. On a more domestic note, today, the UK government has announced a legal right to a minimum broadband speed of 10 Mbps for homes, set to take place by 2020. While only 4% or so of UK homes don’t have access to at least 10 Mbps speed, the change is indicative of a far wider trend towards faster connectivity and broader Internet access, which we expect to see develop significantly across next year.