The year 2020 will go down in history as the year when we learned to do more things online: work, shop, even interact with our loved ones. As a result, the Internet is stronger than ever. According to OpenVault data, US household daily broadband usage experienced a dramatic spike in March 2020, rising from 12.6 gigabytes the previous month to 17.3 gigabytes.
Although usage has dropped slightly since then, it didn’t return to pre-pandemic levels. At one point, Internet usage was so high that Netflix and YouTube decided to lower video quality to cope with the extra traffic.
This time, it wasn’t just a trend because the way we use the Internet fundamentally changed and impacted multiple areas of our lives. Some even argue that, due to this change, the Internet should now be classified as a basic right, not as a luxury, and that communities worldwide should have open access to it.
A new era of shopping
The death of retail was a hypothesis even before 2020, but the pandemic accelerated the shift to e-commerce. With stay-at-home orders in place and stores all across the country closing their doors, clients moved online, where they discovered that they could buy the same things, but with added benefits: no gas spent to drive to the store, no crowds, no stress, and sometimes, even lower prices.
Online stores were quick to adapt to the huge influx of traffic and invest in hosting services to keep up. Unsurprisingly, online grocery stores reported one of the highest growth rates, but other sectors stood out too. For example, people also bought car parts, skincare products, clothes, and home improvement products online. In March 2020, sales levels were comparable to Black Friday. According to an Adobe report, online sales will continue to surge and hit $4.2 trillion, and US consumers will account for one-quarter of the total spending.
The Internet is now a tool that facilitates education
Online learning rose dramatically in 2020 and, as schools and universities closed down, courses moved online. Although they have their shortcomings, platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom were crucial in offering education continuity. This year, most schools will open around the world, but some have offered students the possibility to opt for online courses. By 2025, the global e-learning market is expected to reach a value of $325 billion and will include not just schools, but also independent courses providers.
Streaming services are here to stay
If the future of cinema is still uncertain, streaming services are living their golden years, proving that we don’t need a big screen and overpriced popcorn to be entertained. Streaming service adoption reached record rates in 2020 and, in the following four years, it’s expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.9% and exceed $1 billion. The market is currently dominated by Netflix, which welcomed 36.5 new members, a 31% increase from the previous year. Based on revenue, the biggest competitor seems to be Amazon, but platforms like HBO Max and Disney+ are catching up from behind.