The WSJ reviews how the tech profile of the next billion will differ greatly from the last billion. These users are hooked on low cost Android phones, data-light apps, and a surprisingly high adoption of voice control features.
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. “We are seeing a new kind of internet user,” said Caesar Sengupta, who heads a group at Alphabet Inc.’s Google trying to adapt to the new wave. “The new users are very different from the first billion.”