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Visualizing the Length of the Fine Print, for 14 Popular Apps

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length of terms of service agreements

length of service agreements

Terms of Service: The Length of Common Digital Contracts

Do you take the time to read the terms of service before you agree to when downloading the latest app or software?

Of course you do…

The world is awash with apps and internet services that ask potential users to agree to a service agreement. Most people click on ‘agree’ and move on, knowing that reading the service agreements could put them to sleep and defer their favorite internet fix.

Taking inspiration from designer Dima Yarovinsky’s project titled I Agree, today’s post visualizes the length of service agreements, by counting the words and calculating how long it would take users to read each one.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

The average reading speed of most adults is 200 to 250 words per minute (wpm). College students, probably because they are very studious and not skimming, move that pace up to around 300 words per minute. For the sake of this analysis, we calculated reading times based on 240 wpm.

App/ServiceWord CountHow many minutes to read? (240 wpm)
Microsoft15,26063.5
Spotify8,60035.8
Niantic (Pokemon Go)8,46635.2
TikTok7,45931.4
Apple (Media Services)7,31430.5
Zoom6,89128.7
Tinder6,21525.9
Slack5,78224.1
Uber5,65823.6
Twitter5,63323.5
Bumble5,44222.7
Snapchat4,93520.6
Linkedin4,34618.1
Facebook4,13217.2
Google3,45914.4
Amazon3,41614.2
YouTube3,30813.7
Reddit3,26713.6
Dropbox2,70411.3
Netflix2,62811.0
Instagram2,4519.7

The service agreement for Microsoft stands out at the top of the list with an agreement that would take over an hour to read — a bit less time than it would take to read Shakespeare’s Macbeth. To be fair, this service agreement does seem to cover the company’s entire suite of products.

These agreements are an insight into the legal mumbo jumbo that exists when it comes to regulating the use of these apps. There are a multitude of agreements that go even further into depth about what rules govern developers, online cash transactions and much more. The average American would need to set aside almost 250 hours to properly read all the digital contracts they accept while using online services.

Regardless, users may feel like they are wasting time reviewing a contract that can neither change or refuse—or more vitally, even comprehend.

Not All Text is Equal: The Flesch Reading-Ease Test

Apparently dealing with some of his own textual frustration, a Dr. Rudolf Flesch observed that some text, in particular legal language, appeared to be written to make reading as difficult as humanly possible.

Long sentences filled with arcane words can drag out simple sentences and discourage comprehension. Flesch wanted to measure the variability in reading comprehension — and by studying different kinds of writing, he developed a formula to determine readability and forever scorn lawyers.

In the Flesch Reading-Ease test, higher scores indicate material that is easier to read. Lower numbers mark passages that are more difficult to read. The formula for the Flesch Reading-Ease Score (FRES) test is:

Flesch Reading Ease Test

The readability score uses two metrics:

  1. The numbers of words per sentence
  2. The number of syllables per word

Based on this score, a text would correspond to a particular education level.

ScoreGradeAvg. Words per sentenceSyllables per 100 words
100-905th grade8123
90.0-80.06th grade11131
90.0-70.07th grade14139
70.0-60.08th and 9th grade17147
60.0-50.010 to 12th grade21155
50.0-30.0College25167
30.0-0.0College graduate29192

So how do the service agreements in our sample rank in terms of the Flesch Reading-Ease test?

App/ServiceFlesch Reading Ease ScoreEquivalent Grade Level
Facebook5610 to 12th grade
Google5610 to 12th grade
Instagram5410 to 12th grade
Linkedin5410 to 12th grade
Microsoft5410 to 12th grade
Snapchat5410 to 12th grade
Dropbox5110 to 12th grade
Bumble50College level
YouTube50College level
Reddit48College level
Apple Media Services47College level
Tinder46College level
Amazon45College level
Netflix45College level
TikTok44College level
Spotify44College level
Zoom42College level
Uber40College level
Twitter39College level
Niantic (Pokemon Go)39College level
Slack36College level

While not the most difficult to read, they definitely include a fair amount of legalese that helps discourage reading. The length and the difficulty of reading these agreements makes them practically useless to the average person.

This is a problem because it undermines basic concepts of contracts and informed consent. Users are giving up their rights without their knowledge.

Terms of Service: You Are the Product

These apps and software are the forefront of the data collection for a multi-billion dollar industry.

Individual user activity and information get easily collected and stored, creating databases of user patterns. This type of behavioral information makes marketers salivate, allowing them target their products to their ideal audience at lower costs than traditional advertising.

Do you know what you have agreed to?

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Technology

How Big Tech Makes Their Billions

The big five tech companies generate almost $900 billion in revenues combined, more than the GDP of four of the G20 nations. Here’s how they earn it all.

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How Big Tech Makes Their Billions

The world’s largest companies are all in technology, and four out of five of those “Big Tech” companies have grown to trillion-dollar market capitalizations.

Despite their similarities, each of the five technology companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet) have very different cashflow breakdowns and growth trajectories. Some have a diversified mix of applications and cloud services, products, and data accumulation, while others have a more singular focus.

But through growth in almost all segments, Big Tech has eclipsed Big Oil and other major industry groups to comprise the most valuable publicly-traded companies in the world. By continuing to grow, these companies have strengthened the financial position of their billionaire founders and led the tech-heavy NASDAQ to new record highs.

Unfortunately, with growth comes difficulty. Data-use, diversity, and treatment of workers have all become hot-button issues on a global scale, putting Big Tech on the defensive with advertisers and governments alike.

Still, even this hasn’t stopped the tech giants from (almost) all posting massive revenue growth.

Revenues for Big Tech Keep Increasing

Across the board, greater technological adoption is the biggest driver of increased revenues.

Amazon earned the most in total revenue compared with last year’s figures, with leaps in almost all of the company’s operations. Revenue from online sales and third-party seller services increased by almost $30 billion, while Amazon Web Services and Amazon Prime saw increased revenues of $15 billion combined.

The only chunk of the Amazon pie that didn’t increase were physical store sales, which have stagnated after previously being the fastest growing segment.

Big Tech Revenues (2019 vs. 2018)

CompanyRevenue (2018)Revenue (2019)Growth (YoY)
Apple$265.6 billion$260.2 billion-2.03%
Amazon$232.9 billion$280.5 billion20.44%
Alphabet$136.8 billion$161.9 billion18.35%
Microsoft$110.4 billion$125.8 billion13.95%
Facebook$55.8 billion$70.8 billion26.88%
Combined$801.5 billion$899.2 billion12.19%

Services and ads drove increased revenues for the rest of Big Tech as well. Alphabet’s ad revenue from Google properties and networks increased by $20 billion. Meanwhile, Google Cloud has seen continued adoption and grown into its own $8.9 billion segment.

For Microsoft, growth in cloud computing and services led to stronger revenue in almost all segments. Most interestingly, growth for Azure services outpaced that of Office and Windows to become the company’s largest share of revenue.

And greater adoption of services and ad integration were a big boost for ad-driven Facebook. Largely due to continued increases in average revenue per user, Facebook generated an additional $20 billion in revenue.

Comparing the Tech Giants

The one company that didn’t post massive revenue increases was Apple, though it did see gains in some revenue segments.

iPhone revenue, still the cornerstone of the business, dropped by almost $25 billion. That offset an almost $10 billion increase in revenue from services and about $3 billion from iPad sales.

However, with net income of $55.2 billion, Apple leads Big Tech in both net income and market capitalization.

Big Tech: The Full Picture

CompanyRevenue (2019)Net Income (2019)Market Cap (July 2020)
Apple$260.2 billion$55.2 billion$1.58 trillion
Amazon$280.5 billion$11.6 billion$1.44 trillion
Alphabet$161.9 billion$34.3 billion$1.02 trillion
Microsoft$125.8 billion$39.2 billion$1.56 trillion
Facebook$70.8 billion$18.5 billion$665.04 billion
Combined$899.2 billion$158.8 billion$6.24 trillion

Bigger Than Countries

They might have different revenue streams and margins, but together the tech giants have grown from Silicon Valley upstarts to global forces.

The tech giants combined for almost $900 billion in revenues in 2019, greater than the GDP of four of the G20 nations. By comparison, Big Tech’s earnings would make it the #18 largest country by GDP, ahead of Saudi Arabia and just behind the Netherlands.

Big Tech earns billions by capitalizing on their platforms and growing user databases. Through increased growth and adoption of software, cloud computing, and ad proliferation, those billions should continue to increase.

As technology use has increased in 2020, and is only forecast to continue growing, how much more will Big Tech be able to earn in the future?

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What Does 1GB of Mobile Data Cost in Every Country?

Globally, the cost of mobile data ranges between $0.09 per GB up to $27 per GB. Here’s how it breaks down in 150+ countries.

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What Does 1GB of Mobile Data Cost in Every Country?

Billions of people around the world rely on their mobile phones every day.

Even in a saturated market, mobile networks have continued to expand their reach. In the last five years alone, almost one billion additional people have gained access to mobile data services.

Despite the growing prevalence of these networks worldwide, the cost of gaining access can vary greatly from country to country—particularly when it comes to the price of mobile data.

Today’s chart uses figures from Cable.co.uk to showcase the average cost of one gigabyte (GB) of mobile data in 155 different countries and jurisdictions. Despite the vast global reach of the mobile economy, it’s clear it still has a long way to go to reach true accessibility.

Discrepancies in Mobile Data Costs

Researchers have identified several key elements that help explain the cost variation for mobile data between countries:

  1. Existing infrastructure (or lack thereof): This might seem counterintuitive, but most mobile networks rely on a fixed-line connection. As a result, countries with existing infrastructure are able to offer mobile plans with more data, at a cheaper price. This is the case for India and Italy. Countries with minimal or no infrastructure rely on more costly connection alternatives like satellites, and the cost typically gets passed down to the consumer.
  2. Reliance on mobile data: When mobile data is the primary source of internet in a particular region, adoption can become nearly universal. This high demand typically leads to an increase in competing providers, which in turn lowers the cost. Kyrgyzstan is a good example of this.
  3. Low data consumption: Countries with poor infrastructure tend to use less data. With mobile plans that offer smaller data limits, the overall average cost per GB tends to skew higher. Countries like Malawi and Benin are examples of this phenomenon.
  4. Average income of consumer: Relatively wealthy nations tend to charge more for mobile services since the population can generally afford to pay more, and the cost of operating a network is higher. This is apparent in countries like Canada or Germany.

The Cheapest Countries for 1 GB of Data

Even among the cheapest countries for mobile data, the cost variation is significant. Here’s a look at the top five cheapest countries for 1 GB of data:

Overall RankCountryAverage price of 1GB (USD)
1🇮🇳 India
2🇮🇱 Israel11¢
3🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan 21¢
4🇮🇹 Italy 43¢
5 🇺🇦 Ukraine46¢

India ranks the cheapest at $0.09 per GB, a 65% decrease in price compared to the country’s average cost in 2019.

Why is data so cheap in India? A significant factor is the country’s intense market competition, driven by Reliance Jio—a telecom company owned by Reliance Industries, one of the largest conglomerates in India. Reliance Jio launched in 2016, offering customers free trial periods and plans for less than a $1 a month. This forced other providers to drop their pricing, driving down the overall cost of data in the region.

Because these prices are likely unsustainable for the long term, India’s cheaper-than-usual prices may soon come to an end.

Another country worth highlighting is Kyrgyzstan, which ranks as the third cheapest at $0.21 per GB, ahead of Italy and Ukraine. This ranking is surprising, given the country’s minimal fixed-line infrastructure and large rural population. Researchers suspect the low cost is a result of Kyrgyzstan’s heavy reliance on mobile data as the population’s primary source of internet.

The Most Expensive Countries for 1 GB of Data

On the other end of the spectrum, here are the top five most expensive countries for one gigabyte of mobile data:

Overall RankCountryAverage price of 1GB (USD)
155🇲🇼 Malawi$27.41
154🇧🇯 Benin$27.22
153🇹🇩 Chad$23.33
152🇾🇪 Yemen$15.98
151🇧🇼 Botswana$13.87

A striking trend worth noting is that four out of five of the most expensive countries for mobile data are in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

A significant factor behind the high cost of data in SSA is its lack of infrastructure. With overburdened networks, the data bundles offered in the region are generally smaller. This drives up the average cost per GB when compared to countries with unlimited packages.

Another element that contributes to SSA’s high costs is its lack of market competition. In countries with multiple competing networks, such as Nigeria, the cost of data skews lower.

The Full Breakdown

The below table has a full list of all 155 countries and jurisdictions included in the data set. It helps demonstrate the stark contrast in the cost of mobile data between the most expensive and cheapest countries globally.

RankCountryAverage price of 1GB (USD)
1India
2Israel11¢
3Kyrgyzstan21¢
4Italy43¢
5Ukraine46¢
6Kazakhstan46¢
7Somalia50¢
8Sri Lanka51¢
9Russian Federation52¢
10Vietnam57¢
11China61¢
12Sudan63¢
13Indonesia64¢
14Algeria65¢
15Australia68¢
16Pakistan69¢
17Poland70¢
18Bangladesh70¢
19Chile71¢
20Turkey72¢
21Tanzania73¢
22Dominican Republic74¢
23Mongolia74¢
24Iran75¢
25Kuwait77¢
26Myanmar78¢
27Denmark80¢
28France81¢
29Nepal86¢
30Belarus89¢
31Georgia93¢
32Ghana94¢
33Monaco98¢
34Western Sahara99¢
35Morocco99¢
36Brazil$1.01
37Romania$1.03
38Jordan$1.03
39Kenya$1.05
40Armenia$1.05
41Austria$1.08
42Egypt$1.09
43Moldova$1.12
44Malaysia$1.12
45Thailand$1.23
46Estonia$1.27
47Uzbekistan$1.34
48Ireland$1.36
49Zambia$1.36
50Tunisia$1.37
51Nigeria$1.39
52United Kingdom$1.39
53Philippines$1.42
54El Salvador$1.45
55Argentina$1.45
56Rwanda$1.48
57Slovenia$1.48
58Cambodia$1.50
59Afghanistan$1.55
60Uruguay$1.58
61Serbia$1.60
62Uganda$1.62
63Nicaragua$1.71
64Macedonia$1.75
65Spain$1.81
66Lithuania$1.85
67Azerbaijan$1.86
68Congo$1.94
69Sweden$2.07
70Guinea$2.08
71Timor-Leste$2.08
72Saudi Arabia$2.12
73Burundi$2.12
74Peru$2.13
75Lesotho$2.13
76Finland$2.14
77Guatemala$2.17
78Bulgaria$2.22
79Bahrain$2.27
80Paraguay$2.30
81Ethiopia$2.44
82Singapore$2.47
83Burkina Faso$2.47
84Croatia$2.48
85Mauritius$2.48
86Hong Kong$2.55
87Haiti$2.74
88Costa Rica$2.74
89Cameroon$2.75
90Albania$2.83
91Netherlands$2.98
92Bosnia and Herzegovina$3.04
93Honduras$3.12
94Côte d'Ivoire$3.20
95Ecuador$3.24
96Liberia$3.25
97Palestine$3.26
98Niger$3.30
99Senegal$3.30
100Mozambique$3.33
101Colombia$3.46
102Sierra Leone$3.69
103United Arab Emirates$3.78
104Latvia$3.79
105Lebanon$3.82
106Slovakia$3.84
107Jamaica$3.88
108Japan$3.91
109Germany$4.06
110Qatar$4.12
111Guinea-Bissau$4.12
112Mali$4.12
113Lao PDR$4.16
114Iraq$4.20
115South Africa$4.30
116Togo$4.50
117Oman$4.58
118Mauritania$4.63
119Tajikistan$4.65
120Libya$4.73
121Mexico$4.77
122Namibia$4.78
123Belgium$4.88
124Gabon$4.89
125Portugal$4.97
126Bolivia$5.09
127Gambia$5.10
128Norway$5.28
129Angola$5.29
130Hungary$5.32
131Papua New Guinea$5.40
132Taiwan$5.91
133Trinidad and Tobago$5.92
134New Zealand$6.06
135Syria$6.55
136Panama$6.69
137Czech Republic$7.95
138United States$8.00
139Central African Republic$8.25
140Switzerland$8.38
141Madagascar$8.81
142Puerto Rico$9.17
143South Korea$10.94
144Turkmenistan$11.44
145Greece$12.06
146Canada$12.55
147Equatorial Guinea$12.78
148Eswatini$13.31
149Cuba$13.33
150Cyprus$13.56
151Botswana$13.87
152Yemen$15.98
153Chad$23.33
154Benin$27.22
155Malawi$27.41

Interestingly, the highest average cost is 30,000% more than the cheapest average price.

The Technology Gap

Will we reach a point of equal accessibility across the globe, or will the technology gap between countries continue to widen?

With 5G networks on the rise, just seven countries are expected to make up the majority of 5G related investments. Time will tell what this means for adoption worldwide.

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