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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Internet update From: Property Management, Volume 30, Issue 5.
Technology and the internet has grown at a rapid pace. In the late 1990s mobile phones were starting to take-off as they gradually reduced in size. It was not until 2007 that Apple launched its first iPhone. Back then a tablet was something you used to treat a headache. A tweet was a noise a bird made and a cloud had a silver lining. Today these have different connotations. Similarly many of the companies that we know so well today were not in existence. In 1998 Google was just being founded. Facebook (www.facebook.com), the social networking site did not even exist. Its fortunes began in 2003. Linkedin (www.linkedin.com), the professional networking site had its origins just a year earlier in 2002. So how has the internet developed through time? I thought I would have a quick review on some of the key changes that we have seen over recent years and how it has impacted the services offered.
The internet is not new. It is a system of interconnected computer networks. Its origins date back to the 1960s, although it was not until the mid-1990s that it started to take-off in the form that we know today. It is also important to note that the internet is not the same as the World Wide Web. In fact the web is just one of the services communicated via the internet. A useful point of reference on the development of the internet and the web is Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page).
According to the International Telecommunication Union (www.itu.int) take-up of the internet in the developed world has grown from around one in ten inhabitants in the mid-1990s to around three quarters today. In the developing world it is around a quarter. English is the most common language in terms of web content at nearly 60 per cent. This is followed by German, Russian, Japanese and Spanish. Chinese hold sixth spot, with roughly the same proportion as Spanish. Will that hold true in the next ten years?
In the early days accessing web pages was fairly basic. I remember undertaking some searches at University in the mid-1990s. At that time all you had was basic text. Of course speed of access was fairly limited back then. As updownload speeds have increased so has the content that is available. Today many web sites now offer video content or graphical content with builds. This is typical with news channels such as the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk/news/) or The Financial Times (www.ft.com). Reports and data services are also growing given the ease with which these can now be downloaded.
This enhanced content reflects the growth in broadband access. In the UK, figures from the Office for National Statistics (www.ons.gov.uk) show that in 2011 over 90 per cent of the UK population was accessing the internet through a broadband connection. Contrast this with 2003, when over 80 per cent of the population accessed through a dial-up connection. Remember those days? Of course, today many people have smart phones. In the same survey by the ONS, it is reported that 45 per cent of internet users now access the internet via their mobile. Being able to access the internet on the move means someone can access their personal e-mails and keep in touch with their social networks. As a commuter you can also get up to the minute travel news. Using the phone's GPS system the phone or other mobile device can be turned into a sat-nav. Not just for the car, but also for use on foot – forget the mini A-Z. If I need to find my way around London, I now use my mobile phone.
Of course, not everyone is in the UK. For various reports or cross-country comparisons I found the OECD had a broad range of reports and statistics on current technology usage and how this has evolved through recent time (www.oecd.org/department/0,3355,en_2649_34225_1_1_1_1_1,00.html).
Developments in technology have challenged the way in which some businesses operate, leading many to adopt new strategies. Many people access news and information through the internet. Most newspapers, including local press now have web sites. I remember in the early days talk that the internet could kill off the traditional news services. It is certainly true that we have seen a reduction in the number of people purchasing newspapers. But the main players have adapted their business model so the internet broadens their offer. The growth in advertising on the web has meant that some sites can gain revenues from advertising on their sites whilst still offering a free news service. Some companies have adopted a strategy of selling premium services. Users who surf for free will only gain access to limited content. To access the full article or to be able to fully search a site requires a specific subscription. Sites such as The Financial Times (www.ft.com), The Times (www.thetimes.co.uk) and The Wall Street Journal (http://europe.wsj.com/home-page) all offer such services. Some have specific products developed for smart phones or table computers.
As news and data are increasingly freely available on the internet, the need to maintain copyright and prevent any plagiarism is important. The Financial Times is in my opinion ahead of the game in this respect. When I copy details of articles for my own personal reference, each time I get the following message automatically “High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email email@example.com to buy additional rights”. Such tools are important for prevent misuse, especially when you are using the internet as a means of selling your services.
But is not just news that is now freely available. Music and video content is available to download, sometimes free, or sometimes on a subscription basis. Many companies now have their own YouTube channel where people can view interviews or other video content (www.youtube.com). On this site you can also access a whole range of video content, including TV programmes, new and old. Many TV channels also offer TV on demand through the internet, or the ability to watch programmes up to seven days after then event. If you missed your favourite programme, don’t worry. You can just access online. All this is possible thanks to the increase and reliability in broadband speeds. With my Sky box I can also use my mobile to record a programme wherever I am. Now if I am delayed or remember that I forgot to set record, I need not worry.
The growth in internet shopping is also challenging the way in we shop, but also how retailers market their products. Many are using the internet to compliment their offer. Some retailers, especially those selling games, CDs or books are finding their market being increasingly squeezed. This is especially the case where a company has fixed costs in the form of high street shops, compared to an online company who only needs a single warehouse.
There is no doubt that technology will continue to influence our behaviours. Changes have been dramatic in the past ten to 15 years. The same is likely to apply to the future. It will be interesting to look back in 2025.
Nigel AlmondAssociate Director,DTZEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org