Online Behavior in 2020
Thirty percent of the world’s population currently has internet access, which is equal to about 2.1 billion users. These users spent a total of 35 billion hours online each month, or about 4 million years. The average monthly usage for each user is approximately 16 hours worldwide, as compared to 32 hours per month in the United States.
Users spend this time in a variety of general activities, especially social media, email, web browsing, shopping and various forms of entertainment. However, the specific ways in which they perform these activities changes regularly. This post discusses the latest trends in online behavior for 2020.
Social networking sites account for about 22 percent of the time that people spend online. Online searches and reading content are close behind, at 21 and 20 percent respectively. The ease of communication over the internet means that users spend 19 percent of their time on e-mail and 13 percent on multimedia. Only five percent of the time people spend online is on shopping. Location-based services are the most rapidly growing category of internet activity for 2020, largely due to the growing use of mobile devices. Watching TV and internet banking are both close behind location-based services in terms of growth rate.
More people sent and received email from mobile devices then desktops in 2019, and this trend will only accelerate for 2020. Email messages will become increasingly optimized for mobile devices to allow these users to navigate their messages more easily. Accessibility is becoming a critical design consideration due to the widespread usage of mobile devices and voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri. The combination of both technologies will also become more common in 2020, allowing users to hear their email read aloud from a smart phone.
Paid browsers one of the biggest trends in search engines to watch for in 2020. The majority of internet browsing may well shift to paid services, as indicated by Google, preventing anti-blockers from functioning in Chrome. This decision clearly indicates that Google plans to upgrade Chrome users to one of Google's G Suite premium services.
Instant page loading is also close to becoming a reality this year. The data on Web pages is generally growing faster than connection speeds for mobile devices, and most people will leave a website if it doesn't load within three seconds. Industry leaders such as Google, Mozilla and Opera therefore have a strong incentive to make their browsers load as quickly as possible.
People have already been using the internet for years to research their health problems and find solutions to them. Healthcare practitioners are capitalizing on this trend by maintaining blogs on various medical conditions, including prevention and treatment options. However, they will also begin thinking beyond mere blog posts and providing resources in other digital formats such as videos and forms for their patients. Smart tools and mobile apps will also become more common methods of monitoring health during the next few years.
Users frequently use the internet to advance their hobbies, which often consists of looking for game cheats or strategy guides for video or PC games. However, it's becoming increasingly common for users use the internet to perform off-line recreational activities more effectively, such as playing a musical instrument or using the latest photographic technique.
Hobby-based mobile apps are one development that will change the way users spend their online time to pursue a hobby. Facebook recently released Hobbi, which is an app that allows users to monitor their progress on hobbies and other recreational activities. It allows the user to maintain pictures in various categories and compile them for sharing on another platform.
Many people use the internet to get ideas for familiar activities. These can include learning a new way to prepare chicken, finding the newest Italian restaurant in town or locating the latest nightclub. For example, home cooking is becoming more popular, and internet users are always looking for more recipes to use for familiar ingredients.
Directions and Navigation
Mobile users are already becoming accustomed to talking to Siri on their iPhones, and home users have been using Alexa for some time. One of the next steps in voice technology is to develop voice interfaces for vehicle navigation. Amazon's Echo Auto plays music and answers questions for drivers, but it only provides navigation functions when it's interfaced with a navigation app on a phone. Amazon is currently collaborating with Telenav to develop a seamless integration between voice assistant and vehicle navigation.
Internet users who are interested in the weather typically open an app on their phone. However, they're likely to prefer checking the weather with a voice-activated assistant. Alexa can provide local weather updates and configure device settings appropriately, including thermostats and lighting. Voice assistants should also be able to provide emergency weather information without prompting from the user.
Product and Service Research
Nearly 90 percent of all consumers use the internet to research products, although this hasn’t always translate into online sales. This is particularly true of expensive items, but nearly half of consumers are now open to making these purchases online. Online products such as appliances, cars and furniture are one of the fastest-growing sales categories in 2020. For example, about 20 percent of consumers have bought furniture online within the past year.
Product Service Purchases
Mobile shopping will continue to be a hot online trend for 2020. Nearly 80 percent of all smartphone users have made an online purchase with their smart phone within the last six months. However, online shopping is rapidly moving towards voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. About 20 percent of the owners of these devices have used them to shop online, a trend that should continue to grow stronger during the next year.
The increasing reliance on mobile devices is driving the transition away from social media as a source of news. Although publishers continue to rely on these platforms, end-users have greater trust in known brands than Facebook or Twitter. Publishers must begin developing innovations like news apps as users continue to move away from websites, even when those websites are optimized for mobile devices.
Major players in online entertainment such as Amazon and Netflix currently engaged in a war on video streaming. The lines between paid and earned media are becoming increasingly blurred, although the total value of this market is expected to reach $6.7 trillion by 2030. Customers will continue to gain power over the form that digital infotainment will take, as providers place increasing priority on customer retention. These companies will also turn to new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) in an effort to hold on to their current customers.
Online financial activities such as banking, paying bills and researching stocks are often challenged by the need to provide the right amount of attention for users. Financial institutions will continue to approach this goal with technology such as AI-based software that offers advice on achieving financial goals. Another feature users can expect in the near future is an alert that tells users when their account balance may not cover expected future activity based on past spending and upcoming due dates for bills. Financial apps can also use predictive analytics to provide alerts that notify users when they may have been double charged by a merchant.