Evolution of the Internet, and its impact on our lives


In 1960 Media theorist Marshall McLuhan predicted “The global village – one world interconnected by an electronic nervous system making it part of our popular culture”. Marshall McLuhan’s prediction is reality today.

The very first connections between government departments & researchers in the sixties have evolved into one interconnected world and, without quite noticing when it happened, the internet has become the nerve center of everyday life.

The Internet continues to evolve minute by minute, but there are several innovations that have marked its evolution in recent times, We take a look at these innovations and their impact on our lives in this presentation.

How has internet access evolved?

Internet access has rapidly evolved with well over half of the world’s population accessing the internet today. Figure 1 illustrates this rapid growth trend. In 2005 there were 1,024 billion users versus 3,578 billion users in 2017! [Source, Statista]. Figure 2 – an example of the global village! Internet penetration is across the world.

Northern Europe has the highest penetration at 94%, whilst Africa has seen the fastest growth rates with the number of internet users across the continent increasing by more than 20 percent year-on-year. [Source, Hootsuite].

What devices do digital consumers use?

From wearables, streaming sticks, consoles to Smartphones and laptops there are many ways people can access the internet today.

Mobile phones are the world’s preferred choice for going online, accounting for a greater share of web traffic than all other devices combined. For example, 52% of the world uses their mobile to go online, versus 43% for Laptops/Desktops. [Source, Simon Kemp].

Device usage however is more complex than this. Many consumers and households are multi-platform, using a combination of smartphone, desktop and tablet devices, with digital consumers owning 3.64 connected devices. [Source, Chase Buckle]

How do consumers search for information on the internet?

Consumers search for information on the internet in a variety of ways. 91% of adults’ use Search engines to find information with Google the heavily favored search engine. For example net share of 74.54% throughout 2017. [Source, Verónica Jarski]

Google is so popular, terms like “Google is your friend”, “I can Google that for you” have become common speak in every day conversations.

Social media networks are another way people search for information. An example of this – ‘Seeking recommendations’ has become a common term used on sites like Facebook. Seeking information through trusted social networks makes search results credible.

The rise of Social media

With 3.196 billion social media users world-wide (up 13 percent year-on-year) Social media has become an essential ‘nerve’ in the Global Village. [Source, Dave Chaffey]

Social media has had a significant impact on how people live their lives. For example, social media is now the ‘go to’ place to get the latest news. According to a new study, 85% of social media users surveyed said that they relied on Twitter and Facebook for their news when they wake up. [Source, David Schneider] Social media also influencers purchasing decisions.

People are using their social networks to seek additional information whether that be ‘recommendations’ or ‘further product information.

What do Consumers buy Online?

Global Consumers buy online across all categories however, consumers still have a preference to buy in-store, vs. online for most shopping categories. A modest growth of 8.8% (of total retail spend) is forecast for 2018 versus 7.4% in 2016. [Source, Khalid Saleh]

As the Global Consumers online buying behavior infographic shows, 60% of consumers prefer to purchase music, movies, videos and books online, versus 28% in-store. In the case of categories like Furniture & Groceries when online logistics are far more complex, consumers will still buy in-store. [Source, Statista]

In terms of global trends, the UK has the highest retail E-commerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales (15.6%) , followed by China (13.8%), Norway (11.5%), Finland (10.8%) and South Korea (10.5%). [Source, Khalid Saleh]

Online Video Consumption

More people are interacting with videos today (and for longer) than ever before. Figure 3 illustrates this fact showing video accounting for half of the ever-growing Internet traffic and according to a Cisco study, global consumer Internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2019 [Source, Tubular Insights].

Global consumers are spending on average 5.75 hours per week watching online video according to a recent study. 4000 global consumers were surveyed with 17 percent of the group watching more than 10 hours per week.

Movies and TV shows led the list in terms of what people were watching most often, with the vast majority people viewing videos at home. [Source, Limelight Networks].

Key Trends

Rise of the mobile! Increased processing power, better battery life, better networking and lower prices (making internet access affordable in developing countries) have been key drivers in acceleration of mobile device usage.

Google is still our friend, but we also have other sources to inform our search. Whilst Google remains the search engine of choice, consumers are turning to other sources to validate searches. As a result, today’s consumers are highly informed, and very much in the driving seat of any internet purchase/other internet outcome.

Online retail sales growth – not there yet! Whilst consumers buy online, growth in the retail emarketplace is slow relative to Mobile, Video, etc. Consumers have strong preferences to buy small items online ie; Music/videos versus categories like grocery where consumers still prefer shop in store. I believe this will change as obstacles are overcome. A recent example Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods in September 2017.

Video the rockstar! Video accounts for half of the ever-growing internet traffic. More people are interacting with video today than ever before and with predictions that 80% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2019, video consumption is set to experience the ‘supernova of growth’ over the next 12 months!

Social media!  From becoming the ‘GoTo’ place for the latest news, influencing product purchases and even political outcomes, social media has had (and continues to) have a signficant effect on how people live their lives.  And the next phase of social media –  ‘artificial influencers’ – Instagram’s faux Influencers  already have real followers! [Source, NBC news 2018]


The internet has profoundly shaped our world becoming the nerve center of everyday life. Several innovations have marked the internet’s evolution in recent times, these are;

  • acceleration of mobile device usage
  • rise of social media
  • rising rate of video consumption

As Internet continues to evolve Video is likely to experience the fastest acceleration.

One to WATCH … e-commerce. As logistics / e-commerce processes are streamlined, and innovative business partnerships are formed, I believe the world will also see rapid growth in online shopping categories like Groceries.

Oh and keep an eye out for those artificial influencers too!


Meet AI influencer @lilmiquela …. almost 1 million followers!!


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