Do you remember the telephone? My memory takes me to a time when long distance (even calling to another area code) was expensive, which limited my ability, geographically speaking anyway, to find a girlfriend in my youth (at least that is my excuse). Also, the rotary dial was awkward and, unless your mom allowed you to have an extended phone cord, you were rarely more than a wall ornament with phone handle in your ear.
While telephones have evolved, innovation took years to get traction. In fact, it was 75 years before telephones were adopted by 50 million users. The Internet, however, its information and communication cousin, needed only four short years to hit this mark.
More important, while the telephone gave rise to chat lines, faxes and foam shoulder rests, the Internet has given rise to numerous more possibilities. In fact, consider the fact that because of the Internet, Pokemon Go reached 50 million users in only 19 days.
The Internet is just entering middle age, and like many things that enter middle age, it will mature and give rise to even more potential. Not convinced? In just a relatively short period of time, consider where it has come already.
1. Currently, there are 47 billion websites, including the very first website ever created over 28 years ago. And while estimates vary about adult content websites, statistics released by one site provide some insane statistics about how much is consumed worldwide. This convinces me that if all porn sites closed, the Internet would simply shut down.
2. Currently, there are 3.58 billion Internet users worldwide, which accounts for almost 47 percent of the global population. Close to half (48%) of all Internet users are in Asia. The other half are drivers in traffic jams.
3. There are 1.59 billion households worldwide with a television, but already over 2 billion people access the Internet from a handheld device. In fact, according to Snapchat's recent S-1 filing, people will consume more media via mobile device than by television in just a few short years. For this reason, I am long in the opthamologist sector.
4. In 2017, we will send and receive 269 billion emails, equating to almost 121 work emails per day. Unfortunately, almost 86 percent of these emails will be spam. My spam filters, unfortunately, cannot figure out that I don't need miracle hair growth drugs and have no relatives in Africa.
5. It took humanity 174 years to reach 3.5 trillion total photos taken. It is estimated that we will take 1.2 trillion photos in 2017 alone. Hopefully, it will not take long to grow out of our selfie obsession.
6. YouTube has over a billion users and accounts for one-third of all people on the internet. Viewers watch 6 billion hours of video each month, including an equivalent 68,000 years watching the top 10 music videos in 2015. Interestingly, well over 80 percent of YouTube watchers live outside the US. This might explain why Americans are so misunderstood.
7. While YouTube statistics are impressive, the streaming service accounts for only 18 percent of all online bandwidth. Netflix, on the other hand, accounts for a whopping 36 percent during peak hours, while streaming in general takes up 70 percent of bandwidth consumed. Interestingly, most Millennials are not aware that Netflix also sends DVDs.
8. Facebook currently has 1.86 billion users, which if it were a country would make it the most populated country on earth. Almost 80 percent of online users use Facebook, with a distant second, 32 percent, accounted for by Instagram (also owned by Facebook). In fact, Facebook and all of its partner apps and services accounts for a global average of 50 minutes a day of our time. Not my time -- I'm on Netflix.
9. There were 90 billion app downloads across iOS and Android mobile devices in 2016. However, Google and Facebook apps account for nine of the top 10 mobile apps used every day, with only Snapchat (at number nine) able to break this list. I wonder how many people globally use it for its phone function.
10. Amazon is not an online retailer -- it is a tech company. In creating the infrastructure needed to run its services, Amazon discovered they had a good thing going and started offering Amazon Web Services (AWS) as an IT infrastructure service to other businesses. Today, one in four companies run on AWS (including Snapchat, Netflix, Adobe and Nasa, just to name a few) and one in three website users will visit an AWS website every day. Amazon controls hundreds of thousands of servers operating in 42 "availability zones" in 16 geographic regions around the world, and the company is adding enough new servers -- every single day -- to have managed all of Amazon when it was a seven billion dollar business. For the coming of the robots and shift in world power, I am reserving the URL, facegoogleamazonstan.com.
While all of these statistics are amazing, the reality is that the web as we know it -- Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, etc. -- represents only four percent of the total discoverable web. The remainder is the "deep, invisible or hidden web," or that which is not discoverable by means of standard search engines. This place is not for the faint of heart -- but is if you are in the market for stolen credit card information, weapons and drugs.
Maybe most difficult to contemplate is where the Internet will go from here. We are clearly in the early stages of its potential, and it may be more fun to dream of what life will look like in just a few short years from now.