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How Generative AI Will Change the Way You Use the Web, From Search to Shopping

Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

By Sarah E. Needleman
Wed, Oct 18, 2023 9:41amGrey Clock 3 min

People seeking information online will increasingly go first to TikTok, ChatGPT and other applications powered by generative artificial intelligence, instead of using traditional search engines, said Michael Wolf, co-founder and chief executive of consulting firm Activate.

Today, about 13 million U.S. adults begin their web searches by using generative AI, Activate data show. Wolf predicts that will grow to more than 90 million by 2027 because generative AI is capable of providing results with far greater precision and customisation.

“Generative AI fundamentally changes the model for search because the results are no longer links,” said Wolf, who gave a presentation of Activate’s findings at The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference on Tuesday. “It serves up your information totally packaged and ready to use.”

Applications rife with customer data will benefit the most from this shift, Wolf said, as they will be better equipped to serve their users with personalised information. He expects TikTok to lead in this area because Activate estimates that its users already spend an average of more than 54 minutes a day on it, compared with 49 minutes daily on YouTube, 33 on Instagram and 31 on Facebook.

Amazon and other major e-commerce platforms have also embraced generative AI to better recommend products for users based on their past behaviour, along with many music- and video-streaming apps, Wolf said.

For example, Spotify earlier this year introduced AI DJ, a feature that offers a curated lineup of music alongside commentary around the tracks and artists that the app thinks users will like. “Choices are being made for you,” Wolf said.

Google and other search engines are also taking advantage of generative AI, yet Wolf said they might not remain the first stop or default option for most people. People are devoting more of their time to social media, entertainment platforms, online videogames and other utility apps that are also embracing the technology.

According to Wolf, domination within the $100 billion search industry is “up for grabs” and large, established companies aren’t necessarily going to outmuscle startups. The rise of open-source AI models is paving a pathway for smaller entrants to potentially make a big impact, he said.

Adoption of generative AI is being driven by a significant increase in the amount of time people spend online—behavior boosted by the pandemic, Activate data show. With people spending more time online, they are becoming adept at using multiple applications at once, enabling them to accomplish more in a single day than would otherwise be possible. Today, the average U.S. adult spends 13 hours daily multitasking among video, audio, games, social media and various technology and media activities.

“AI is making everybody into a metaverse creator,” Wolf said, referring to extensive online worlds where people interact via digital avatars.

Generative AI is poised to disrupt the internet in other ways besides search, such as content creation, Wolf said. By typing simple text prompts into applications featuring the technology, anyone—not just tech-savvy folks who know how to write code—will be able to make videogames, artwork, music and even entire virtual worlds on their own.

More predictions from Wolf’s presentation:

  • Nearly all U.S. households, more than 120 million, will be able to access the internet through their television sets by 2027. Whether people own a smart TV or have a device like Roku, the TV screen will play a bigger role than ever, driving subscriptions for streaming services and capturing valuable viewing data.
  • By 2027, the average video-streaming subscriber will have 5.8 subscriptions, up from 4.9 today. With many such applications now offering the option to see ads in exchange for lower monthly fees, Activate predicts ad revenues across the major video streaming services will grow 25% annually through 2027.
  • Spatial computing—the ability to interact with virtual imagery displayed without obstructing a user’s view of the real world—won’t be limited to pricey virtual- and augmented-reality headsets. The technology will be prevalent on almost any internet-connected device with a screen, from car navigation systems and kitchen appliances to digital door locks and mall kiosks.
  • Online sports betting will continue to grow and evolve. The activity became legal five years ago, and it is now available in 35 states. Activate forecasts that U.S. adults will collectively wager $186 billion annually by 2027, up from about $123 billion today. Another change: Sportsbooks today rely on extensive sign-up and referral bonuses to attract new customers, but going forward retention will be driven by improved betting options and user experiences.
  • While the average U.S. adult will spend 13 hours a day multitasking by 2027, the majority of the time will entail watching video, followed by listening to music, podcasts and other audio, and playing videogames. How consumers will spend this time with technology and media will differ across generations. For example, YouTube and other social-media platforms will become the top destinations for younger adults looking to discover new music, while those over the age of 35 will still rely on the radio.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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3 Reasons You Should Buy a Stick Vacuum—And 3 Reasons They Suck

Convenient, compact and light, cordless vacuums from companies like Dyson and Samsung have become covetable status symbols for some. But they come with some negatives, too.

Fri, Dec 8, 2023 3 min

JILL KOCH, 39, bought her first cordless vacuum because it was pink. “I didn’t look at the brand, I didn’t look at the price. I saw the colour and was like, ‘I have to have it,’” said the Cincinnati-based home organisation and cleaning blogger. Koch, who owns almost a dozen vacuums, says her newest cordless stick, the Shark Wandvac, gets the most use. She finds its motor powerful enough to handle most tasks. But more important, because of its sleek look, “it’s not even weird to store it in plain sight,” she said. Whenever she sees something that needs cleaning, that vacuum is within reach. She can clear the mess, dump out its dustbin into a trash can, and re-dock the vacuum in a minute or two.

Cordless stick vacuums aren’t new—British manufacturer Dyson released its first cordless stick vacuum in 2010—but the battery-powered, bagless models have become more popular, largely due to their convenience. In 2018, a year after telling Bloomberg that cordless vacuums were driving his namesake company’s growth, James Dyson announced it would no longer bother developing corded models. Convenience, however, isn’t cheap. While you can find excellent corded upright vacuums for under $200, the latest cordless option from Dyson, its Gen 5 Outsize, costs $1,050.

Some experts say ditching your corded model is unwise. Cordless vacuums have a place in your cleaning arsenal, but they aren’t a replacement for a more powerful machine like an upright model with a bag, said Ken Bank, a third-generation vacuum expert and president of Livonia, Mich.-based Bank’s Vacuum Superstores. “The technology has improved a lot,” he said, “but [stick vacuums] aren’t anywhere near as powerful as a vacuum cleaner with a cord and a real motor in it.”

Here’s what to consider before going cordless.

The Pros

Cordless vacuums are light and maneuverable

They are a great choice for folks with strength or mobility issues, or those who just don’t want to push around a heavy vacuum.

Cordless vacuums are supremely versatile

Most vacuums come with multiple heads and attachments, but cordless vacuums make them easier to use. Once you’ve swapped out the long wand for a dust brush, crevice tool or upholstery cleaner, your vacuum easily fits in hand. It’s ideal for cleaning the inside of a car or drawers.

Cordless vacuums let you clean more spontaneously

Since they can be stored on docks or stands, a cordless vacuum is always within reach. If you see a mess, you can have cleaned it before someone with a corded vacuum might have time to locate a plug.

The Cons

Cordless vacuums don’t contain dirt that well

When it comes to filtration and dust containment, nothing beats a classic vacuum with a bag, says Bank, “The cordless ones [are] not sealed up tight,” Bank said. Each time you open your vacuum’s dustbin to dump it out in the trash, he says, you release dust.

Cordless vacuums require you to clean within a time limit

Stick vacuums are battery powered. Batteries die. That means an all-day deep clean might require multiple charging stops. While some cordless vacs can run for up to an hour at a time, estimates shorten when you’re using stronger suction settings.

Cordless vacuums can be tough to fix

Bank doesn’t just sell vacuums; he repairs them, too. He says most stick vacuums are a service nightmare. “They’re hard to maintain, you can’t really take them apart to clean them, and if they break, most companies don’t make parts for them,” he said.

Don’t Get Left In the Dust

For spills, quick pick-ups, and in-between the deep cleans, it’s tough to beat a stick. Two to consider:

A sweeper with storage

Samsung’s Bespoke Jet AI Cordless is not designed to be hidden away in a closet. Its sleek, free-standing docking station doubles as a charger and a canister that auto-empties the vacuum with enough capacity for a few days’ worth of dirt. The company says a battery charge can last for 100 minutes, though that might vary as the vacuum’s software adjusts the suction level based on the floor surface it detects underneath. $US999, Samsung.com

Dust disrupter

Designed by two former Dyson R&D experts, the Pure Cordless by Lupe (pronounced “loop”) has a beefy, 9-cell battery and a 1-litre dust bin. Though one charge lasts around an hour when the vacuum is set on low suction, and just 15 minutes on max, you can buy a second battery ($149) and keep it charged for longer cleaning sessions. Unlike many other models, the Lupe is easily serviceable: You can buy an affordable replacement for basically every component. It also comes with an industry-leading five-year warranty. $US699, LupeTechnology.com

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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