The next billion are using the internet in very different ways than the first billion!
Sree Vijaykumar
Sree Vijaykumar
From the Editor's Desk
The internet's global expansion is entering a new phase, and it looks decidedly unlike the last one. Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers - "the next billion," the tech industry calls them - is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world's less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy. Incumbent tech companies are finding they must rethink their products for these newcomers and face local competitors that have been quicker to figure them out. A look at Megh Singh's smartphone suggests how the next billion might determine a new set of winners and losers in tech. Mr. Singh, 36, balances suitcases on his head in New Delhi, earning less than $8 a day as a porter in one of India's biggest railway stations. He isn't comfortable reading or using a keyboard. That doesn't stop him from checking train schedules, messaging family and downloading movies. Mr. Singh squats under the station stairwell, whispering into his phone using speech recognition on the station's free Wi-Fi. It is a simple affair, a Sony Corp. model with 4GB of storage. On his screen are some of the world's most popular apps - Google's search, Facebook Inc.'s WhatsApp - but also many that are unfamiliar in the developed world, including UC Browser, MX Player and SHAREit, that have been tailored for slow connections and skimpy data storage. Continued here.

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