In the early 2000s, or even further back – when accessing the internet required time, patience and perseverance – the world wide web was reserved for the wealthy families and businesses well off enough to afford it. Back then, just 361 million people around the globe had access to the internet. After all, while computers may have existed at companies for a while, home computers were still a relatively new phenomenon and were yet to become affordable. Plus, dial-up modems and other primitive internet equipment – that often made necessities of that time such as home phones useless – were still expensive.
Over the next decade though, computers became far more affordable as they evolved while internet packages became as accessible as other home necessities like television cable and mobile phone contracts. By 2010, 1.7 billion people around the world had access to the internet, and by 2015 the number had passed over a billion. Now, 40% of the world’s population is able to access the internet with ease.
Needless to say, this change has affected almost every part of our everyday lives. For example, it has changed the way we spend our leisure time and have fun. Instead of watching the same five TV channels or reading the same books repeatedly, we have access to millions of TV shows, movies and novels using sites like Netflix and Amazon Kindle.
Arguably one the most successful online industries is gaming, with online casinos attracting millions of users looking for easy, attainable yet entertaining fun each and every day. In fact, online poker operator 888poker receives over 200,000 unique visitors looking to play table games and slots from North America, Europe and Brazil alone according to Alexa. Poker and its variants – which include Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo – is incredibly popular online, as online casino operators have adopted almost every part of the internet’s ever-evolving capabilites, including interactive play, live dealer poker games and even worldwide poker tournaments that people can get involved in from their very own homes.
Meanwhile, if we’re looking to buy something we no longer have to even leave the house as most shops offer online services and home delivery, while sites like Amazon and eBay have created huge empires based on e-commerce. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, individuals can now even take free or cheap courses to educate themselves in how this new, modern world functions at sites like Udacity and Team Treehouse, both of which offer courses in everything from web development to games design.
Of course, the fact that the internet is now a necessity available in 40% of the population’s homes has also changed the music industry. Like games, shopping and online education, music is more accessible and affordable than ever. Occasionally this is considered a bad thing depending on who you ask, as the music industry is simply unable to make money like it used to since the internet’s creation. However, for consumers, the internet has made music more interesting than ever, as sites like iTunes and Amazon allow you to purchase just one song you like instead of an entire album. Plus, sites like Pandora and Spotify are incredibly popular, allowing listeners to stream entire music catalogues and pay for ad-free experiences.
Right now, the internet is a part of many of our everyday lives, but where will it go from here? It appears that the days of desktops and even laptops are coming to an end as consumers look for cheaper, portable platforms. As the latter gain popularity, the internet will be even more accessible than ever, so we can expect the number of households with internet access to grow significantly. Really, it seems as though the days of the internet as a luxury are officially over, and it has now become a necessity in our day-to-day lives.