The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice

The internet’s global expansion is entering a new phase, and it looks decidedly unlike the last one. Instead of typing searches and e-mails, 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. Incumbent tech companies are finding they must rethink their products for these newcomers and face local competitors that have been quicker to figure them out.

Mr. Singh, 36, balances suitcases on his head in New Delhi, earning less than $8 a day as a porter in one of India’s biggest railway stations. He isn’t comfortable reading or using a keyboard. That doesn’t stop him from checking train schedules, messaging family and downloading movies. “We don’t know anything about e-mails or even how to send one,” said Mr. Singh, who went online only in the past year. “But we are enjoying the internet to the fullest.”


The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice