The Meeker files: ‘Queen of the net’ says mobile internet growth still accelerating

Mary Meeker

Mary Meeker

If for some reason you still think that mobile is anything less than the present and future if the internet, think again. While global internet access only grew by eight percent last year, mobile internet access grew by a mammoth 30% and there’s still masses of space left for growth.

That’s according to figures from the 2013 Internet Trends report from renowned web analyst Mary Meeker, sometimes referred to as the “Queen of the Net”.

Meeker, a partner at VC company Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), unveiled her annual trends report at All Things Digital’s D11 conference.

According to Meeker, there are 2.4-billion internet users a very slight increase from the 2.3-billion users she reported a year ago. It’s becoming increasingly evident however that mobile is poised to be the dominant means of accessing the internet.

There are now around 1.5-billion global 3G subscribers, up from 1.1-billion a year before. Mobile also now accounts for 15% of all internet traffic, up from 10% a year ago.

Meeker Files Mobile

An indication of just how important mobile has become when it comes to accessing the internet lies in China, the world’s largest country in terms of internet user numbers. There 75% of the population accesses the internet using mobile devices, while 71% use desktop computers.

Chinese mobile internet access

There’s still a lot of space for mobile internet access to grow too. Much of this growth comes from the fact that we’re only just getting started with smartphones. While smartphone growth has slowed (down to 31% from 42% last year), there are still only 1.5-billion smartphone subscribers and as affordable Chinese smartphones make their way into lower-level emerging market countries then that number could see another growth surge, especially when you consider that there are around 5-billion mobile phone users around the globe.

Global smartphone vs mobile usage

Rise of the tablets

The arrival of cheaper tablets also means that people when people aren’t accessing the internet from mobile phones, it’s increasingly likely that they’ll be doing so from tablets. Less than three years after the introduction of the iPad, tablets are outselling notebooks and desktop PCs.

Tablet shipments

Emerging markets are hungry for internet access

The rise of tablets and smartphones will also help fuel what is clearly a massive hunger for internet access in emerging markets too. Of the ten countries to have added the most internet users between 2008 and 2013, only the US is a traditionally developed economy. Perhaps most interesting however is the fact that Iran’s online population has grown 205% year on year, despite that country’s draconian internet laws.

Internet growth

Emerging market web properties are starting to reap the benefits of that growth too. While most of the web’s top properties are still US-based — familiar names like Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook hold some of the highest positions — Chinese sites Tencent and Baidu also make it into the top 10, with nearly all of their users accessing them from outside the US. And despite the fact that most of the big players are from the US, 81% of their traffic comes from other countries.

Top Online Properties

Social keeps growing

In other parts of the web, social is still growing globally but, according to KPCB, the biggest of them all, Facebook, is starting to see decreased usage (Although this is notoriously difficult to prove with any veracity). The likes of Twitter, Instagram and Google+ will meanwhile have all seen increased usage over the past year.

Social media usage growth

Lessons from LinkedIn

People spending less time on Facebook isn’t good news for a company that’s had a rough time with some of its products as well its stocks in the wake of its IPO. One company it could learn a lesson or two from in regard to the latter is professional social network LinkedIn.

LinkedIn post IPO

It has managed, by and large, to grow its margins along with its user base and stock price by improving and diversifying its products.

LinkedIn post IPO stock

Wearables, drivables and flyables

The rise of wearable technology like smartwatches, smart glasses and the integration of smart tech into cars means that we could soon be checking our Facebook statuses and making LinkedIn connections in very different ways to what we’re currently used to.

Wearable tech

Meeker reckons we’re on the cusp of a new era in technology, which could replace a number of the functions we currently use our smartphones for.

Wearables replace smartphones

Big data gets seriously big

All those wearable devices, tech-fueled cars and flying drones mean that more data is being generated than ever before.

As evidence of that, you only need look at the number of photos uploaded to photo-sharing services like Snapchat and Instagram in 2013 so far, versus the number uploaded in previous years.

Photo sharing uploads

The number of hours of video uploaded to YouTube tells a similar story.

Video hours uploaded to YouTube



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