Its no longer news that the Internet is now firmly mass market and absolutely crucial to any business. But there is some interesting thinking around on how the world is dividing up between people who get it and people who don't. Pip Colborn of UBS developed a neat way of looking at this - dividing the world into three groups;
Digital Natives = anyone under 25; they have grown up with a PC, a mobile (cell) phone) email, IM, Google etc and they think differently as this stuff is second nature to them.
Digital Immigrants = those over 25 who made the jump and got involved -whether that was with Netscape all those years ago or more recently as broadband made it a pleasure rather than a challenge
Analogs = all those who still don't get it and are basically scared of technology - they think they can ignore all things digital and just carry on as normal.
UBS use this to try and forecast the future health of tech stocks - and by projecting forward 10 years show just how much growth is still to come. In 2014 Digital Natives will have expanded to include everyone under 35 and Digital Immigrants will have swelled through all those people who realise that digital is a necessity for most parts of life. And as for analogs, can you imagine someone in your workplace today telling their boss they don't do computers? That sort of attitude will be viewed with amazement in a few years in just about every industry.
In another take on this Seth Godin looks at the digital divide within web users - and sees a real distinction growing between those who will adopt new tools ( blogs/rss/firefox/flickr etc) and those who just use whatever Microsoft gives them.
We agree with Seths' point that geeks used to be on the fringes - we believe that things now move from being geek to being mainstream really fast - as long as they're really useful and really usable. This is what is driving the huge growth in PVRs, in downloading TV programmes from the web and the improved functionality of mobile phones. And as Seth points out the divide is getting bigger every day.
How does your business deal with this rate of change? Which part of the digital divide are your customers on? You need to know.