Trends

Mary Meeker's State of the Internet Stars Mobile Devices and China


Meeker

Photograph by Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

Meeker

Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers gave her annual Internet Trends report at Re/Code’s Code Conference on Wednesday. The report is a cult favorite of the technology industry because she compiles lots of information about trends in tech and weaves them into a coherent look at the business of the Internet as a whole. Meeker’s report is never shocking, exactly—she pulls widely from already public sources of data—but it is comprehensive. To a certain extent, it serves as the foundation for a year of comprehensive wisdom in Silicon Valley.

So there’s lots in here: Education and health care are at “inflection points,” single-use apps are gaining on sprawling app empires such as Facebook’s (FB), and talk of an Internet bubble is overblown. As expected, the big stars are mobile devices and China. The entire thing can be found on the firm’s website, but here are a few of the more interesting slides.

Internet User Growth: The number of people discovering the Internet for the first time continues to grow, but the rate of growth is slowing down. This is especially true for markets such as the U.S., which grew only 2 percent last year, and Japan, which didn’t grow at all. China is an exception, with almost three times as many people online as the U.S., plus a 10 percent growth rate.

Mobile: Much of the presentation was dedicated to the rise of mobile computing, which makes up an increasing proportion of Internet activity. Meeker sees plenty of room for growth—only about 30 percent of the phones in the world are smartphones.

It’s also early days for mobile advertising, which Meeker considers a $30 billion opportunity in the U.S. alone. She looks at the amount of time people spend with various types of media and compares that to proportion of advertising that each type of media attracts. Print still seems to be drawing more advertising money than it’s worth.

Where People Spend Screen time: Media habits are rapidly shifting towards mobile devices, and the three countries whose citizens spend the most time with screens are all in Asia.

This doesn’t necessarily mean less time with television, however. People who watched the 2012 Olympics on PCs or mobile devices also spent more time watching the games on TV.

China: The rise of China has long been building, as Meeker shows with a chart tracing gross domestic product back to the early 1800s, when China was the world’s largest economy. It’s not quite back there yet, but it’s getting close.

China’s not just a place with a lot of consumers, though. Four of the top 10 Internet properties are now Chinese companies, up from just one at the beginning of last year.

Brustein is a writer for Businessweek.com in New York.

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