Companies Dominating the Internet in 2016

October 20th, 2016 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Aaron O'Keeffe

shutterstock_331280033
While big names remain top of their game, new trends and smart technologies are providing platforms for startups as well as upswings for legacy companies who missed the boat during the smartphone revolution. 2016 won’t go down in history as a time of massive digital change, but there are some interesting players behind the scenes. Let’s look at which companies are dominating the Internet in 2016

‘The Big 5’ aren’t going anywhere

Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft. These names are synonymous with technology, and among the biggest companies in the world. While they compete fiercely among each other, there are few out there to challenge their dominance.

Each is top dog in in at least one important area, Facebook is the de facto social network (and owns others), Amazon is a retail kingpin, Google owns search, Microsoft is the go-to for business class server software and desktop class OS, and Apple has the premium technology market hook, line and sinker (EU fines pending).

But it’s not just these core services that make the Big 5 so big. Did you know that Google now has a parent company called Alphabet, and they invest heavily in things like driverless cars, health, aging, high speed internet, venture capital and deep learning (Artificial Intelligence).  Facebook owns Instagram and Oculus, and Apple’s uncharacteristically late-to-market music subscription service still managed to snag 10 million subscribers in the first six months of operation.

And while we might be able to avoid one or two of these brands, they are deeply ingrained in our lives. You can boycott Google search, but then you are using Bing (Microsoft) or Yahoo (Amazon). If you want a mobile phone it’s either Apple, Android (Google) or, if you’re a glutton for punishment, Windows.

Hailing a ride share through Uber? Google Venture capital owns a big stake.

Watching a bit of Netflix? It’s hosted on Amazon Cloud.

Want to talk to anyone through IM? Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are both Zuckerberg properties.

The Big 5 tech companies are more ingrained in our lives then we sometimes give them credit for. Their dominance in our digital lives is practically unavoidable. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some lean, mean startups waiting in the wings.

Companies behind the scenes

While the idea of two guys and some tech in a garage making it big has largely fallen by the wayside, there is still space in the market for upstarts and startups to connect with bigger services and new user bases. Let’s take a look at some of the most promising.

CloudFlare

Ever heard of CloudFlare? The San Francisco based company has made a name for itself as a content delivery network that not only gives users the quickest route to their webpage, but offers strong protection against DDOS attacks. CloudFlare is used by NASDAQ, eSports giants League of Legends and actual rock legends Metallica. Claiming to handle up to 5% of the world’s traffic, there’s a good chance you’re using it just about every day without even knowing.

Mixpanel

Another San Franciscan-based startup, Mixpanel is a data analytics tool used by web giants like Uber, Airbnb and Amazon’s Twitch service. Mixpanel is funded by the likes of seed accelerator Y Combinator and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin. That’s quite a pedigree.

Companies use Mixpanel to track user behaviour and adjust the UX of their services. So next time you book a ride share through Uber, you’re also interacting with Mixpanel, who in turn are helping the rideshare service make their app more intuitive through data.

Twilio

And speaking of Uber, Twilio is a software layer that provides text and phone interface through the web. Just got a text message from Uber? That’s Twilio. They are also ingrained with large US companies like Home Depot, Nordstrom and the DNC. Those kind of connections make Twilio a company to watch.

Opportunities in IoT

The Internet of Things is gathering momentum, opening the door to new players, and providing a path back to the big leagues for old hats.

Old is new

Intel used to be a tech company on everybody’s lips, then they dropped the ball on smartphones and mobile and have been playing catch-up ever since. IoT Analytics reports that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich isn’t going to be caught out again. The Intel IoT Developer Kit is becoming a real choice alongside Arduino for makers looking to experiment with IoT devices, while the company continues to push R&D towards low power chips that will service IoT devices.

No doubt a lot of industry giants will be there for IoT. Google, Amazon, Microsoft Cisco, IBM and Samsung are all making inroads, be it through R&D or acquisition (Samsung recently acquired SmartThings, a smart home platform). But there are other players to watch as well. Both small businesses and large will be changed by the IoT.

Arduino already has a reputation in the maker community, with their development boards used widely by hobbyists and startups. Meanwhile smartphone semiconductor company ARM is uniquely positioned to grow into the IoT industry.

From little guys to big.LITTLE Guys

The UK based company was one of the big winners from Intel’s disinterest in the smartphone market. Founded in 1990, Arm Holdings designs and licences ARM instruction set architectures in just about every class of computing. ARM stands for Advanced RISC Machine, a design that requires less heat, transitions and processor power, making them ideal for portable devices.

Keen smartphone boffins will recognise ARM’s heterogeneous big.LITTLE computing architecture, which uses the ARM Cortex processor core to couple battery efficient slower cores (LITTLE) with powerful, power hungry cores (big) to meet the demands of smartphones and IoT devices. While they may have spent their early years in Intel’s shadow, ARM remain one of the big players in the mobile space, and one to watch in our interconnected future.

About the author

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Aussie Broadband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.