Can you believe that the internet is now 30 years old?! Perhaps the quintessential invention defining our digital generation, the world wide web has profoundly changed the world we live in, and enabled us to take giant strides in convenience, efficiency, entertainment and more…
Here are some of the key milestones in the internet age:
Although not strictly the “internet”*, there is no denying that the emergence of email as a major communication disruptor and subsequently a primary method to communicate at home and in the workplace has changed the way we function as a society. Suddenly, people were able to send complicated ideas and documents to one or multiple people all over the world instantly, having previously been restricted to individual phone calls or faxes.
(*The protocol they work on – simple mail transfer protocol – SMTP is not the same as the web – hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP)
2. High speed broadband
“Pshhhkkkkkkrrrrkakingkakingkakingtshchchchchchchchcch*ding*ding*ding*” – who else is old enough to remember the harsh but somehow therapeutic din of the old 56k dial up modem connecting to the internet? In those days you had to pre-plan your browsing habits as webpages would take what seemed like an age to load! Want to watch a video? Once clicking your chosen media, you probably had time to nip to the shops for milk before it had finished “buffering” and was ready to watch!
Of course, it was only a matter of time before this technology improved and was more widely available to consumers – cue broadband internet. As this service rolled out, companies such as AOL, Tiscali, Virgin and BT were clambering over each other in an epic power struggle to provide the fastest service to consumers, and consumers were throwing their money back at the ISPs for the fastest and most reliable internet services.
Today the majority of households have a fibre broadband connection, able to download webpages and rich media in sub-second speeds. This provides an unprecedented and convenient browsing experience that the younger generation will never truly appreciate, having never had their 50% loaded webpage 404 because Mum just had to call her friend to discuss the latest Corrie episode!
Perhaps the biggest game-changer that propelled the internet into every home and pocket of consumers is the emergence of e-commerce. Now you didn’t have to traipse out in the cold to the shops to pick up groceries, unwanted clutter could be placed online for auction, and you could even pay household bills or renew your passport whilst sitting at home in your slippers.
One company has been the driver of the e-commerce evolution, providing an unrivalled level of convenience and allowing customers to order basically anything online with the touch of a button and guaranteed next day delivery. Of course, this company is Amazon – the world’s second trillion-dollar valuation company (after Apple).
4. On-demand entertainment
As fibre broadband became more mainstream, so did the prominence of online streaming services. Famously one of the first big companies to offer this service was Netflix. Back in 2000, Netflix offered the now-defunct traditional media rental company Blockbuster the chance to buy them for a sum of $50m, which they refused, branding the company a “very small niche business”. Fast forward to today and Blockbuster is no more but Netflix has amassed over 148 million subscribers and is worth around $153 billion by current market valuation! Surely this will go down as one of the worst business decisions of all time…
Customers of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify and Sky Q can browse thousands of entertainment options at the touch of a button and stream direct to their chosen device at crystal clear 4K resolution with almost no load time. What a time to be alive…
5. The launch of smart devices
The internet paved the way for constantly connected devices, and it was only a matter of time before this expanded into the mobile phone. Today, there is a myriad of different manufacturers of smartphones and enough models to make even the most committed tech enthusiast go cock-eyed, but the first major “smartphone” to be released is arguably the iPhone. Launched in 2007, the iPhone introduced the concept of “apps”, little pieces of bespoke functionality that could be downloaded onto the device to turn it from a simple phone into an all-encompassing, always connected, mobile computer.
In the relatively short length of time since the first iPhone launch, it is amazing to see how they have progressed and what kind of smart devices we now have access to – your kettle can now be turned on via an app or your geo-location, your fridge can automatically order you milk and you can adjust your home’s heating and lighting for your cat whilst sat in your office at work!
6. Social media
MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok – just some of the social media channels that have set the course to where we are today. Fundamentally defining a digital age of “millennials”, and the way we communicate with each other, our lives have never been so widely shared and accessible as they are today with these platforms. The internet has enabled brands to hyper personalise their advertising to target billions of consumers who are interested in their products and services – using social media as the vehicle.
As the channels grow, so does their online advertising revenues. This provides a platform to make the channels even more addictive and all-encompassing. Today, social media users can instant message, video call, share live events, sell products, set-up communities and so much more. Social media is here to stay, but the question is… what’s the next big channel?
7. Cloud services
Another word for “cloud” could be “online” – and this is the basis behind cloud-based services. On a personal consumer level, services such as OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive give users the options to synch their media to a secure online backup and easily access from other devices on demand.
In a business context, cloud computing has provided the platform to truly drive business efficiencies. Widely adopted products such as Microsoft Office 365 has given company employees complete flexibility and convenience. Now you can share and edit documents whilst communicating in real time using Microsoft Teams, automatically update software such as Excel and Outlook, and synchronise shared folders and intranet sites using SharePoint.
Dynamic Edge are experts in cloud integrations, completing hundreds of migrations for a wide range of satisfied clients. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you realise the benefits that cloud can bring.
8. Cyber crime
As web users became more relaxed about buying products online and sharing personal data, sadly this presented an opportunity for a rise in cyber-crime.
Personal data interception can be big business for certain criminal and hacker groups, with the redistribution of digital money reaping rich rewards. It is therefore imperative that users are conscious of online security when using the internet. Only shopping on secure (https “SSL” protected) websites, having data back-up in place, and using secure passwords and privacy settings are all critical to maintaining a rearguard defence against cyber criminals. 2018’s GDPR legislation has placed far greater emphasis on organisations to be more responsible in the handling of customer data, and has provided strict sanctions for non-compliance.
Dynamic Edge have over a decade in experience in all manner of cyber security techniques. Get in touchtoday to discuss how we can your company secure online.
Relatively speaking, voice is a new milestone in the story of the internet. Growing at an incredible rate in terms of consumer engagement, it is becoming far more commonplace for customers to utilise voice technology to search for information and products online.
Again, the big players continue to drive these changes, with Amazon, Apple and Google launching in-home devices that listen for voice commands and return a host of different services – such as reading you a story, playing your favourite song, going through a cooking recipe or even turning on your living room lights!
10. Cryptocurrency / blockchain technology
Again one of the more recent online technological advances in comparison to some of the others mentioned, blockchain technology has provided an opportunity for consumers to share data and transact in an entirely new and secure way.
Initially launched in 2009, BitCoin was the world’s first “cryptocurrency”. Utilising blockchain technology, BitCoin and other cryptocurrencies have the advantage of being virtually untraceable due to the universally-adopted ledger system. In simple terms, cryptocurrencies are exchanged using a public and private key – where the private key is shared only by the buyer and seller of the goods, and the public key contributing to the overall “blockchain” and ledger. This way the system is completely self-managed and impossible to cheat. Cryptocurrencies also have the advantage of not being managed by any financial institutions and being extremely secure.
One drawback of an untraceable currency is that it provides a platform for the purchase of illegitimate goods and services, and due to this cryptocurrency is the payment method of choice on the “dark web”.
Despite this, the practical uses of blockchain allow it to be a truly exciting and innovative development when it comes to online technologies – some examples include end-to-end encryption for things such as patients being able to easily access their medical records, real-time charity project financial information to donors, and sending money via SMS with no fees.
Did you enjoy this article? Dynamic Edge have a wealth of expertise with digital solutions, and help clients leverage opportunities every day as their trusted IT partner. Get in touch today to discuss your needs.