Next Billion Users (NBU) – a classification given to the segment of users getting online for the first time across the world.

Some highlights below from a great article in "The Economist" about how pursuit of leisure drives internet use for next 1 billion users.

  • Indians now consume nearly three times as much data on their phones as Americans.
  • According to Google, three-quarters of all mobile traffic in India is video.
  • The most striking thing they are doing is watching videos—which they are also making, in great abundance. In 2016 there were only 20 Indian YouTube channels with more than 1m subscribers. Today there are 600.
  • One of YouTube’s top 50 channels worldwide is largely in Bhojpuri, a language spoken only in some of India’s least-developed states.
  • The second half of the internet will for the most part speak languages other than English and Mandarin. It will have little to no experience with other digital media. It will also come online almost entirely on mobile devices.
  • “Timepass” is the essence of the internet. The vast majority of the top 25 apps by revenue in both Google’s and Apple’s app stores are games (and both companies announced new paid gaming services this year).
  • Tencent became one of China’s internet giants because of games. Facebook grew into the world’s sixth-most valuable company by giving people a place to “do timepass”. YouTube is the gateway to several lifetimes’ worth of timepass.
  • The fastest- growing new apps of recent years have all been aimed at timepass: Fortnite, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat.
  • TikTok, which consists of 15-second videos, is timepass in its essence, made by bored kids in mofussil towns who have found vast audiences by doing silly things.
  • Google, which owns the Android operating system used by 86% of the world’s smartphones, is trying to shift its thinking to build products for Mumbai, not Mountain View.
  • The workshops in Rajasthan were part of a Google initiative called “internet saathi”, or “internet buddy”, aimed at women. Mr Shapiro’s unit sends teams to developing countries to better understand how people there use the internet, and what they might want from it next.
  • Reliance, aims to be the tollgate for all timepass. It fingers in everything from power generation to retailing, invested $37bn to get its network up and running. In so doing, it has built a user base which it hopes eventually to tap for more than just its current very low data charges.
  • The mobile network has set up movie, music, television and sports streaming services; news and content aggregators; chat, cloud storage and payment services; its own app store; and an annual subscription service called Jio Prime.

People want to stay in touch with each other, to be entertained and to express themselves, whatever their income and wherever they call home.

The pattern has been repeated in country after country. Brazilians are now the world’s third-largest national population on Facebook, after India and the United States.

According to Latinobarometro, a pollster, of the Latin Americans who eat only one meal a day, one out of three still contrives to use a smartphone.

Juliano Spyer, an anthropologist who studies Brazilians’ internet use, found that the reason poor people in the north-eastern state of Bahia pay for connectivity is that they see it as a form of social mobility—not because they use it to earn more, but because they use it to be more connected.

In Asia and the Middle East smartphones open up a world of romance, enabling people to flirt and date despite social constraints. All over, they allow people who may never travel abroad to make new friends around the world—and people who are travelling, of- ten as migrant workers, to stay in touch.

Providing access to entertainment, opportunities for a richer social life and the ability to speak and be heard to hundreds of millions will mark a profound improvement in humankind’s aggregate quality of life. It will have risks, as the politicization of social media and the social mediation of politics in rich countries have shown. But just as they will be facing some of the same risks, the world’s rich and poor will be sharing experiences. They will be spending their time doing the same things: chatting on WhatsApp, liking pictures on Instagram, watching videos on YouTube, doing timepass on TikTok.

The world’s ability to have a little bit of chill time is becoming more abundance and affordable.