Internet Era Global Hegemony

How the world is divided by internet platform usage as we potentially enter a new Cold War.

In order to produce this map I used data for the dominant platforms used in each country for: search; social networking; e-commerce and ride share & delivery. I also looked at mobile hardware and payments/fintech and will look at telecoms infrastructure later.


Both Russia and China pursued active responses to challenge US Internet platforms, but while there is Russian influence in former Soviet Republics and it chips away at the fringes of Eastern Europe, land area tells a different story than population. China is the only country to challenge US Internet hegemony in terms of real power and is increasingly influential throughout South East Asia.

Africa is in flux as people have switched from feature phones to smartphones later, and the role of telcos has not yet diminished. South East Asia is in flux as China expands its influence. India is the clear battle ground for the US.

As Nicolas Colin points out, as India moves even closer to the US, it further marginalizes Europe on the global stage — or, rather, forces it to get closer to China. In the switch from industrial to digital, Europe is a re-developing economy more like India than the US and with no home-grown Internet platform usage outside of the Nordics. Given that India and China were the majority of global GDP for 18 of the last 20 centuries and that the global centre of gravity is not only shifting Eastwards but to China as the world’s largest economy, it is not inconceivable that not just Europe, but the US will fall behind India, but this is a long way off in terms of the current reality.

Fintech and payments are still dominated by regulatory boundaries and pre-internet incumbents, or by telcos in areas where smartphone penetration is less, such as in Africa. Only in China are internet platforms dominant. It was only when preparing this map that it became clear that the WeChat model will have to spread and that WhatsApp’s payment trials in India and launch in Brazil are of huge strategic importance and why investment by Google and Facebook in Reliance is so key. It is one of the few areas where Europe has a narrowing window of opportunity to build a global platform, but without the reach of a social network or chat service to embed fintech apps in, it is unlikely to realise this opportunity.

E-commerce is much more fragmented than search or social, because it involves more tangible goods & services but is still very much consolidated regionally, with Amazon and eBay in much of the West, Alibaba in China, Naspers in former Soviet areas and Mercado Libre in South America.

Ride share is much more fragmented due to its inherent regulatory obstacles, much like fintech.

As Huawei has just recently become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, it is likely that a Chinese OS will emerge to challenge IOS and Android.

This map is based on real data but with some interpretation added. I will update it periodically and it will hopefully become more scientific over time as the Risk-like game of internet era global geopolitics plays out.

Architect: I used to design buildings, now I design companies.