Tech giants Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) , Alphabet (GOOGL - Get Report) and Facebook (FB - Get Report) will benefit most from a number of new Internet trends expected in 2017, Jefferies analysts said on Wednesday.
The firm made a broad range of predictions: Expedited shipping will disrupt another major industry, net neutrality will be repealed, and virtual reality and personal assistant technologies will see greater adoption, among others.
Changing consumer habits and the slow decline of brick and mortar retail locations have increasingly made it so that offline and online commerce practically "fight on one unified front," Jefferies said. Many retailers have since built up their expedited shipping capabilities, but very few have been able to match Amazon's two-day, same-day and one-hour shipping efforts.
Amazon has also built up a vast network of fulfillment and "sortation" operations, including processing robots, as well as a fleet of cargo jets and semi-trailer. This has allowed Amazon to keep up "strict," speedy delivery services while cutting costs, Jefferies noted.
Amazon's fulfillment efforts could lead to it taking a swipe at a multi-billion dollar market like road haulage, which Jefferies estimates is valued at about $800 billion in the U.S.
"Today, Amazon remains the clear leader in e-commerce fulfillment...tomorrow, Amazon could add another billion-dollar pillar to its business by simply expanding on its already solid fulfillment capabilities," the firm explained.
The e-commerce giant, along with Alphabet and Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) , would stand to benefit if net neutrality is dismantled under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-led FCC, Jefferies said. Net neutrality prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from promoting their own content over others.
Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet's YouTube would benefit because they'd likely pay a fee to provide faster service to consumers, the firm contends.
"While at first this could be a negative given a rising cost to deliver the product, it would also provide a significant barrier to scale for smaller competitors who cannot match the cash available to larger players," Jefferies said. "This barrier will be exacerbated even more as streaming content begins to migrate towards 4K content which requires much higher data usage then something being streamed in either SD or HD."
Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook may also be winners in the rise of chat bots, personal assistant and virtual reality technology.
Amazon has made some serious headway in the personal assistant market, seeing noteworthy success in sales of its Echo products in the holiday season, and has distinguished itself from competitors by inking several partnerships to integrate its Alexa voice service, the firm said.
Alphabet, for its part, introduced Google Home in October that costs $50 less than the full-sized Echo. Earlier this month, Alphabet said it would integrate Alexa in certain Ford (F - Get Report) vehicles, representing just a segment of the tech giant's efforts to expand in the rapidly growing connected car and autonomous automobile industries.
"We appreciate that Google is investing in strategic, promising areas like Google Assistant, hardware, and autonomous vehicles while pausing investment in less rewarding areas like Fiber," the firm noted.
Jefferies predicts that Alphabet and Amazon will acquire more "differentiated technology providers" in the artificial intelligence market this year, as a means of continuing growing momentum in voice assistant technology.
Facebook is a smaller player in the artificial intelligence space, but it has been working to branch out the AI chatbots used in its Messenger service. Jefferies expects that Facebook will focus on increasing the scale and engagement in chatbots, rather than monetization, in 2017.
That said, Facebook has become "committed" to advancing virtual reality technology, recently announcing it would invest another $250 million in Oculus, Jefferies noted.
Virtual reality products probably won't see wide consumer adoption for another three to five years, but more buzz will be generated around virtual reality in 2017, the firm said.