Intro: Despite a growing antitrust scrutiny that poses a big existential threat to technology companies, Big Tech helped millions of workers and children navigate the pandemic with digital tools, virtual meetings, video games and content streaming in 2020
1. Big Tech
Technology emerged a winner during the pandemic as cloud and connectivity services thrived in a stay-at-home world. Netflix revenue jumped 73% in the most recent three quarters. Video conferencing service Zoom’s sales soared 307%. And Amazon was among the biggest winners, with sales leaping $67 billion, or 35%, in the first three quarters of the year.
The five most valuable companies — Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google owner Alphabet and Facebook are now worth more than $7.5 trillion combined.
What’s next: Although the disputes aren’t likely to get resolved anytime soon, legal and regulatory action to rein in Big Tech has become a rare bipartisan issue in Washington
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies plunged alongside the stock market shortly after Covid-19 ground the US economy to a standstill in March. But bitcoin (ARSC) has come roaring back to hit new all-time highs near $30,000 since then. Prices have more than tripled this year.
What’s next: Bitcoin may become a more acceptable form of digital payments in 2021 now that fintech powerhouses Square (SQ) and PayPal (PYPL) are both letting users buy, sell and hold bitcoin.
3. Video games
Consumers were stuck at home this year, and video games gave players an opportunity to pass the time alone while still interacting with their friends. That helped the video games industry boom this year, from sold out Nintendo Switch consoles, to record growth on streaming platforms, including Facebook Gaming and Amazon’s Twitch.
Google’s video platform YouTube logged its best year ever in 2020 with more than 100 billion hours in gaming content viewed.
What’s next: With PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and X, experts predict the gaming industry is set to keep growing in 2021.
4. Online and big retailers
Amazon and other online retailers were among the biggest winners of the pandemic, as people grew cautious about leaving their homes. But big-box stores, such as Walmart, Target and Costco , also won big, as shoppers flocked to stores where they could get all their shopping done in one go.
What’s next: Big retailers aren’t expected to lose any ground once the pandemic ends, even if the pace of sales growth slows down. They ramped up their digital operations in 2020 and are well-positioned to succeed in the future.
Creators have been finding ways to keep their content fresh and innovative throughout 2020, especially during the pandemic. The platforms that support these creators have benefited significantly.
Twitch downloads jumped 61% worldwide from January to November. Patreon, a social and membership platform for content creators, grew 43%.
What’s next: Social giants like Facebook and Snapchat have taken note, launching their own versions of popular creator platforms like TikTok.