A new generation of internet users—a swath of the poor and less-literate—tend to use voice recognition and other intuitive apps over text, creating new business winners and losers. Silicon Valley giants are rushing to respond.
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.