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The Evolution of Instant Messaging

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The concept of instant messaging crossed into the mainstream in the 1990s, allowing friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and like-minded thinkers from all over the world to connect in real-time.

Since then, instant messaging has revolutionized how we communicate, and today over 2.5 billion people are signed up for at least one messaging app. The present IM experience is seamless, and it intuitively integrates features like video, photos, voice, e-commerce, and gaming with plain-old messaging.

However, despite the impressive features of dominant apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and Whatsapp, today’s technology would simply not be possible without the earlier breakthroughs of their more rudimentary predecessors.

Instant Messaging: Past, Present, and Future

The following infographic from Hello Pal, a messaging app allowing for instant translation, shows the evolution of instant messaging. It pays homage to the advancements made in the early days by apps such as ICQ or AIM, while also looking at the trends in IM that will surface in the coming years.

The Evolution of Instant Messaging

While messaging is commonplace today, it was only two decades ago that chatting with friends and strangers online was a revolutionary concept.

The History of Instant Messaging

1961 – MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), along with other multi-user operating systems, helps to pioneer instant messaging by allowing up to 30 users to chat in real-time.

1988 – Internet Relay Chat (IRC) allows users to connect to networks with client software to chat with groups in real-time. IRC peaked in popularity in the 1990s, but still has hundreds of thousands of users today.

The late 1990s sees the first major competing IM platforms arrive: ICQ, AIM, MSN, and Yahoo all fight for market share in the new instant messaging market.

1992 – The first SMS message, “Merry Christmas”, is sent over the Vodafone GSM network in the U.K. in December.

1996 – Israeli company Mirabilis launches ICQ, which allowed users to chat one-on-one or in groups, exchange files, and search for other users. At its peak in 2001, ICQ had over 100 million accounts registered.

1997 – AOL launches AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), which pioneers the “Buddy List” concept. By the mid-2000s, AIM has the largest share of the instant messaging market in North America with 52%.

1998 – Yahoo! Messenger launches, allowing users with a Yahoo! ID to connect.

1999 – Microsoft releases MSN Messenger, a competitor to AIM and Yahoo. By 2005, roughly 2.5 billion messages are sent each day on the platform.

1999 – Across the Pacific Ocean, Tencent Holdings launches its first successful app. It’s called QQ, and it is initially a near-exact clone of ICQ.

To many, the 2000s is a Golden Age for instant messaging. Sharing photos, making video calls, and playing games are now common platform features

2001: By this time, only 30 million SMS text messages are sent per month in the United States.

2002: Apple launches iChat for its Mac OS X operating system, which is compatible with AIM.

2003: Skype allows Internet users to communicate with others through video, voice and instant messaging.

2005: Google Talk, available in a Gmail user’s window, is launched to allow easy communication between email contacts.

2006: MySpace launches the first instant messaging platform built within a social network: MySpaceIM.

2006: Market Snapshot (US Market)

  • AIM: 53 million
  • MSN: 27 million
  • Yahoo: 22 million
  • Google: 866,000

2006: By this time, 12.5 billion SMS text messages were sent each month in the United States

2008: Facebook Chat is released, allowing Facebook users to message friends or groups of friends on the social network. (Later on, Facebook would release a standalone mobile app version called Facebook Messenger in 2011.)

2009: An upstart WhatsApp allows users to text, send video, and audio for free.

Instant messaging undergoes a renaissance in the 2010s, as new apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and WeChat change how the game is played.

The popularity of new platforms change the concept of messaging entirely:

WeChat (2011)
Initially started by Tencent as a clone of WhatsApp, WeChat is now much more than a chat app. It’s a fully integrated mobile platform with shopping, payments, games, and much more.

WeChat processed $46 billion in payments in January 2016 – that’s about as twice as much as Paypal.

Snapchat (2011)
Snapchat, which is popular with millennials, allows users to send “snaps” which disappear after an allotted amount of time.

The app has evolved into a mix of private and public content, including brand networks and coverage of live events.

Slack (2013)
Slack’s workplace collaboration software allows teams to communicate easily and efficiently.

Slack was the fastest company to hit “unicorn” status ever, taking just 1.25 years to be worth over $1 billion.

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Debt

Visualizing the Evolution of Consumer Credit

See how consumer credit has evolved through the ages — from its ancient origins, to the use of game-changing technologies like artificial intelligence.

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The origin of credit dates all the way back to ancient civilizations.

The Sumerians and later the Babylonians both used consumer loans in their societies, primarily for agricultural purposes. The latter civilization even had rules about maximum lending rates engraved in the famous Code of Hammurabi.

But since then, consumer credit — and how we calculate creditworthiness — has gotten increasingly sophisticated. This is so much the case that technology now used in modern credit scoring would seem completely alien to people living just a few decades ago.

Video: Consumer Credit Through the Ages

Today’s motion graphic video is powered by Equifax, and it shows the evolution of consumer credit over the last 5,000 years.

The video highlights how consumer credit has worked both in the past and in the present. It also dives into the technologies that will be shaping the future of credit, including artificial intelligence and the blockchain.

A Brief History of Credit

We previously visualized the 5,000-year history of consumer credit, and how it dramatically changed over many centuries and societies.

What may have started as agricultural loans in Sumer and Babylon eventually became more ingrained in Ancient Roman society. In the year 50 B.C., for example, Cicero documented a transaction that occurred, and wrote “nomina facit, negotium conficit” — or, “he uses credit to complete the purchase”.

Modern consumer credit itself was born in England in 1803, when a group of English tailors came together to swap information on customers that failed to settle their debts. Eventually, extensive credit lists of customers started being compiled, with lending really booming in the 20th century as consumers started buying big ticket items like cars and appliances.

Later, the innovation of credit cards came about, and in the 1980s, modern credit scoring was introduced.

The Present and Future of Credit

Learn about the modern credit landscape, as well as how technology is changing the future of consumer credit.

The modern numeric credit score came about in 1989, and it uses logistic regression to assess five categories related to a consumer’s creditworthiness: payment history, debt burden, length of credit history, types of credit used, and new credit requests.

However, in the current era of big data and emerging technologies, companies are now finding new ways to advance credit models — and how these change will affect how consumers get credit in the future.

Modern Tech

Consumer credit is already changing thanks to new methods such as trended data and alternative data. These both look at the bigger picture beyond traditional scoring, pulling in new data sources and using predictive methods to more accurately encapsulate creditworthiness.

Future Tech

In general, the future of credit will be shaped by five forces:

  1. Growing amounts of data
  2. A changing regulatory landscape
  3. Game-changing technologies
  4. Focus on identity
  5. The fintech boom

Through these forces, new credit models will integrate artificial intelligence, neural networks, big data, and more complex statistical methods. In short, credit patterns can be more accurately predicted using mountains of data and new technologies.

Finally, the credit landscape is set to shift in other ways, as well.

Regulatory forces are pushing data to be standardized and controlled directly by consumers, enabling a range of new fintech applications to benefit consumers. Meanwhile, the industry itself will be focusing in on identity to build trust and limit fraud, using technologies such as biometrics and blockchain to prove a borrower’s identity.

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Data Visualization

Ranking the Top 100 Websites in the World

The top 100 websites ranking reveals how people around the world search for information, which services they use, and how they spend time online.

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top 100 biggest websites preview

As a greater portion of the world begins to live more of their life online, the world’s top 100 websites continue to see explosive growth in their traffic numbers.

To claim even the 100th spot in this ranking, your website would need around 350 million visits in a single month. Using data from SimilarWeb, we’ve visually mapped out the top 100 biggest websites on the internet. Examining the ranking reveals a lot about how people around the world search for information, which services they use, and how they spend time online.

Note: This is a ranking of biggest websites, specifically. Brands that extend across platforms or serve the majority of their users through an app will not necessarily rank well on this list. As a result, you’ll notice the absence of companies like WeChat and Snapchat.

The Top 100 Websites

The 100 biggest websites generated a staggering 206 billion visits in June 2019. Google, YouTube, and Facebook took the top spots, followed by Baidu and Wikipedia. Below is the full ranking:

Global RankDomainMonthly visits (billions)ParentCountry
1Google.com60.49Alphabet Inc🇺🇸 United States
2Youtube.com 24.31Alphabet Inc🇺🇸 United States
3Facebook.com19.98Facebook, Inc🇺🇸 United States
4Baidu.com9.77Baidu, Inc🇨🇳 China
5Wikipedia.org4.69Wikimedia Foundation🇺🇸 United States
6Twitter.com3.92Twitter, Inc🇺🇸 United States
7Yahoo.com3.74Verizon Comm. Inc🇺🇸 United States
8pornhub.com3.36Mindgeek🇨🇦 Canada
9Instagram.com3.21Facebook, Inc🇺🇸 United States
10xvideos.com3.19WGCZ Holding🇨🇿 Czech Republic
11yandex.ru3.06Yandex🇷🇺 Russia
12ampproject.org2.76N/A🇺🇸 United States
13xnxx.com2.47WGCZ Holding🇨🇿 Czech Republic
14amazon.com2.41Amazon.com, Inc🇺🇸 United States
15live.com2.25Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
16vk.com2.16Mail.ru Group🇷🇺 Russia
17netflix.com1.81Netflix, Inc🇺🇸 United States
18qq.com1.76Tencent🇨🇳 China
19whatsapp.com1.76Facebook, Inc🇺🇸 United States
20mail.ru1.64Mail.ru Group🇷🇺 Russia
21Reddit.com1.55Advance Publications🇺🇸 United States
22yahoo.co.jp1.5Verizon Comm. Inc🇯🇵 Japan
23google.com.br1.38Alphabet Inc🇧🇷 Brazil
24bing.com1.32Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
25ok.ru1.08Mail.ru Group🇷🇺 Russia
26xhamster.com1.06Hammy Media Ltd🇨🇾 Cyprus
27sogou.com1Tencent, Sohu Inc🇨🇳 China
28ebay.com0.95eBay Inc🇺🇸 United States
29bit.ly0.95Spectrum Equity🇺🇸 United States
30twitch.tv0.91Amazon.com, Inc🇺🇸 United States
31linkedin.com0.91Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
32samsung.com0.89Samsung Group🇰🇷 South Korea
33sm.cn0.81Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
34msn.com0.8Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
35office.com0.79Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
36globo.com0.74Grupo Globo🇧🇷 Brazil
37taobao.com0.74Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
38pinterest.com0.74Pinterest, Inc🇺🇸 United States
39google.de0.73Alphabet Inc🇩🇪 Germany
40Microsoft.com0.72Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
41accuweather.com0.71AccuWeather Inc🇺🇸 United States
42naver.com0.64Naver Corporation🇰🇷 South Korea
43aliexpress.com0.64Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
44fandom.com0.61Wikia Inc🇺🇸 United States
45quora.com0.58Quora Inc🇺🇸 United States
46github.com0.57Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
47imdb.com0.57Amazon.com, Inc🇺🇸 United States
48uol.com.br0.56Grupo Folha🇧🇷 Brazil
49docomo.ne.jp0.56Tata Teleservices🇯🇵 Japan
50youporn.com0.55Mindgeek🇨🇦 Canada
51bbc.co.uk0.55Public owned🇬🇧 United Kingdom
52microsoftonline.com0.55Unknown🏴 Unknown
53paypal.com0.53Paypal🇺🇸 United States
54google.fr0.53Alphabet Inc🇫🇷 France
55yidianzixun.com0.51Particle Inc🇨🇳 China
56wordpress.com0.51Automattic🇺🇸 United States
57news.google.com0.51Alphabet Inc🇺🇸 United States
58sohu.com0.51Sohu🇨🇳 China
59duckduckgo.com0.51Duck Duck Go, Inc🇺🇸 United States
60google.co.uk0.51Alphabet Inc🇬🇧 United Kingdom
6110086.cn0.5China Mobile🇨🇳 China
62iqiyi.com0.5Baidu, Inc🇨🇳 China
63booking.com0.5Booking Holdings🇺🇸 United States
64amazon.co.jp0.49Amazon.com, Inc🇯🇵 Japan
65cricbuzz.com0.49Times Internet🇮🇳 India
66taboola.com0.48Taboola Inc🇺🇸 United States
67amazon.de0.48Amazon.com, Inc🇩🇪 Germany
68cnn.com0.47Turner Broadcasting🇺🇸 United States
69jd.com0.47Various (Tencent 20%)🇨🇳 China
70apple.com0.47Apple Inc🇺🇸 United States
71google.it0.45Alphabet Inc🇮🇹 Italy
72bilibili.com0.44Bilibili Inc🇨🇳 China
73google.co.jp0.44Alphabet Inc🇯🇵 Japan
74livejasmin.com0.44Docler Group🇱🇺 Luxembourg
75tmall.com0.44Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
76news.yahoo.co.jp0.44Verizon Comm. Inc🇯🇵 Japan
77youtu.be0.44Alphabet Inc🇺🇸 United States
78tribunnews.com0.43Kompas Gramedia Group🇮🇩 Indonesia
79amazon.co.uk0.43Amazon.com, Inc🇬🇧 United Kingdom
80chaturbate.com0.43Multi Media LLC🇺🇸 United States
81google.co.in0.41Alphabet Inc🇮🇳 India
82craigslist.org0.41Craigslist🇺🇸 United States
83imgur.com0.41Imgur Inc🇺🇸 United States
84bbc.com0.41Public owned🇬🇧 United Kingdom
85fc2.com0.39FC2, Inc🇺🇸 United States
86tsyndicate.com0.39Unknown🏴 Unknown
87redtube.com0.38Mindgeek🇨🇦 Canada
88tumblr.com0.37Verizon🇺🇸 United States
89foxnews.com0.36Fox Corporation🇺🇸 United States
90rakuten.co.jp0.36Rakuten Inc🇯🇵 Japan
91google.es0.36Alphabet Inc🇪🇸 Spain
92outbrain.com0.36Outbrain Inc🇺🇸 United States
93discordapp.com0.36Various🇺🇸 United States
94amazon.in0.35Amazon.com, Inc🇮🇳 India
95crptgate.com0.34Unknown🏴 Unknown
96weather.com0.34Landmark Media Enterprises, LLC🇺🇸 United States
97toutiao.com0.34Bytedance🇨🇳 China
98youku.com0.34Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
99adobe.com0.34Adobe Inc🇺🇸 United States
100news.yandex.ru0.33Yandex🇷🇺 Russia

Search Reigns Supreme

Search engines provide the connective tissue that binds the internet together, and they accounted for the majority of website traffic in the top 100 ranking.

Google is the undisputed top website in nearly every country in the world. In fact, Alphabet’s 11 domains in the top 100 ranking – including YouTube and a number of international versions of Google – racked up an impressive 90 billion visits in a single month.

Exceptions to Google’s dominance can be found in China (Baidu) and Russia (Yandex), where homegrown search engines have managed to capture the domestic market.

One scrappy competitor, DuckDuckGo, is slowly gaining prominence as an alternative to Google. The search engine’s focus on user privacy appears to be resonating with internet users as the site’s traffic has surpassed 500 million visits per month.

Full Stream Ahead

Video streaming and sharing is another major driver of global internet traffic.

Thanks to high-powered phones and bigger data plans, video is now a prominent portion of internet content consumption. This can take a few forms, from binge watching TV shows on Netflix to short-form video uploads on platforms like Douyin and Instagram.

Live streaming is increasingly a bigger part of the mix. Twitch, which is focused on gaming, is now ranked 30th in the world in web traffic. The Amazon-owned platform is now so popular that on any given night, its viewership surpasses many of the major U.S. cable networks.

Hours watched on Twitch

Of course, this category also includes adult content, which is well represented in this ranking. XNXX, XVideos, and PornHub all made the top 20, and the three websites combined for over nine billion visits in the most recent month of data available.

Old Dogs, New Tricks

Classic web portals such as MSN and Yahoo are still putting up impressive traffic numbers, but major players are increasingly staying relevant by acquiring rising internet stars.

In the case of Microsoft, acquiring Github and Linkedin helped the company target new markets and grow their overall presence online. Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch proved to be a good bet, and Instagram continues to breathe new life into Facebook, which has seen a backlash focused on its original namesake social network.

Google isn’t sitting still either. The company recently championed the open-source AMP Project to help improve the performance of mobile pages, which are increasingly bogged down by adware, unoptimized images, and JavaScript. In a short amount of time, the AMP Project has taken off to become one of the biggest websites in the world.

The project is not without controversy though.

Critics point out that cached AMP pages – which are hosted by Google – essentially cut out content creators, and that non-compliant pages may lose their ranking on mobile search results. As the project moves towards becoming a foundation, it remains to be seen how AMP will evolve and how much involvement Google will have in the future.

The Geography of the Top 100 Websites

The internet may be a global network, but many of the gatekeepers are still located in the United States. If international domain suffixes of companies like Amazon and Google are counted, 60 of the 100 websites in the ranking are American.

Below is a breakdown of the Top 100 by country.

Top 100 Websites Ranking by Country

China is a strong runner-up, with 15 websites in the Top 100. While most of these Chinese companies are focused on the sizable domestic market, some are also making global inroads through investment. Tencent has partially backed the fast-growing chat platform, Discord, and it also has double-digit stakes in Snapchat and Spotify.

With the exception of Baidu, all of the biggest websites in the world have swelled in size by serving a global audience. As the tech market continues to mature in China, it remains to be seen whether Chinese companies can successfully move beyond the firewall to become the next Facebook or Google.

Correction: Bilibili, a website run by a Chinese company, was incorrectly identified as a Japanese company.

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