If you're working for an Internet company, it is very likely that one of the most important metrics for your product that you track is the number of daily active users or weekly active users or monthly active users. And the goal is to keep moving that number higher. To persuade more and more users to spend more and more time on your product.
When I say users, I'm reminded of a quote I read somewhere:
"The only other people I know who call their customers users are drug dealers."Perhaps, the first version of the product that is shipped is the only version of the product that was built solely with the intention of solving a user problem. From that point on, the underlying goal of every new feature added is to get the user to spend more time on the product, either by doing more things on it or by coming back to it more frequently.
The burning issue for companies big and small today is how to get more people to spend time with their product. In that sense, every product out there is competing for our time, our attention, and they are competing for it with products across multiple domains - Facebook wants our attention and time as much as Google or Netflix or Amazon - and competing with our time for friends, dinners, dates. Only when we spend more time using these products do they manage to maintain their growth curves.
It is no wonder then that the biggest companies like Facebook and Google are trying their hardest to increase the number of people that have Internet access. There is only so much more time that those of us with Internet access can spend on these products than what we already do. Though a very hard task, it is easier to get bring new people to the Internet than free up time for those who are already entrenched in the Internet.
And the harder option isn't left unattended either. Apart from all the other good things self driving cars that Google (among others) is building, it frees up over an hour of time each day for an average person to spend time doing searches and watching Youtube and checking email (all places where Google serves ads). Adding that one hour a day to a hundred million people who drive to work each day and serve them ads during that time will earn enough additional revenue in a year for Google to pay for it's investment in building the self driving car several times over.
We might not be too far away from the time when these companies will start thinking about creating more people - more the people more the users of their products more the ads served more the revenue.
There seem to be interesting times ahead as the war is now not for land or resources or money (at least not directly), but for our precious attention, that we are so willingly trading away for being in multiple places at once - in Italy with your friend by looking at her photos, in California for a concert that you watch live on Snapchat, in your best friend's room by chatting with her on WhatsApp, at your workplace by acting on your email.