Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report is considered to be the gospel for the tech world. A veteran Internet analyst and a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Meeker has released her much anticipated 2015 edition of the report. As has been customary in recent years, Meeker introduced the report at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes in the US on Wednesday. Her presentation was exhaustive and intensive, spread across 197 slides. Here are some highlights of the report.
39% of the world on Internet
39% of the world’s population or 2.8 billion people are now on the Internet. Getting the other 5 billion people online has become a huge philanthropic and business opportunity. Facebook’s Internet.org and Google’s Project Loon aim to open the door to connectivity for the people of the developing world through subsidised access in the hope that they’ll become loyal users.
Top five Internet companies are platforms
Apple leads the pack, followed closely by Google, Alibaba, Facebook and Amazon. With the exception of Alibaba that is based out of China, the rest are all US-based. All these Internet companies are dominated by platforms where third-party developers and merchants bolster value and network effect. Apple and Google’s mobile app stores, Alibaba and Amazon’s e-commerce marketplaces, and Facebook’s socially connected app ecosystems adapt their flexible core platforms for a wide array of uses.
India at inflection point of Internet penetration growth
Meeker’s report has about eight slides that highlight India as one of the leading markets in Internet and smartphone growth. India is the third-largest Internet market after China and the US, with 232 million users in 2014. It is the fastest growing Internet market, adding 63 million new Internet users in 2014.
India, Brazil, and China are leading the growth of smartphones. In India, Internet usage on smartphones and mobile devices has risen dramatically. The Indian smartphone market grew by close to 55%, followed by Brazil at 28% and China at 21%.
Interestingly, one slide on India shows that 65% of the total Internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Hardly surprising, considering India had only 15.52 million wired broadband Internet connections out of 99.20 million broadband Internet users at the end of March 2015. Only Nigeria has a higher mobile Internet traffic percentage but in absolute numbers India beats every country in the world.
Another interesting Internet trend from India is that 41% of e-commerce sales happen on the mobile, and that number will only increase. Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce firm, is planning to shut its website and go with an App-only model. Some online retailers like Myntra are already App-only.
And finally, coming to mobile wallets, According to Meeker, Paytm dominates the Indian market with 80 million mobile wallets, registering year-on-year growth of 17 times!
Global apps and India
The top apps by usage and number of sessions per day are messaging apps like Facebook, Whatsapp and Messenger. These apps are where people spend the most of their time on mobile, making them a potential springboard for additional services like e-commerce and media consumption.
Apps from Asia such as WeChat and Line pioneered many features like video calls, payments, and stickers now being emulated by apps like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.
In this section too the report focuses on India. Unlike China, where local services dominate, India is a big market for global (mainly American) Internet companies. India is the largest market for WhatsApp, the second largest for Facebook and Linkedin and the fastest growing for Twitter. India accounts for 7% of YouTube’s overall users (70 million users in India). Amazon said last year that it would invest an additional $2 billion in India to take on local e-commerce rivals like Flipkart.
The top 10 Android apps by usage include three messaging apps—WhatsApp, (Facebook) Messenger and Hike—utility apps like MX Player and Truecaller, a couple of games and a cricket app. As expected, none of the data-intensive apps like streaming services make it to the top 10. What’s surprising is none of the news apps made it to the list either, suggesting Indian users currently use their smartphones for communication and offline entertainment.
12 to 24-year-olds trendsetters
The report shows teenagers to be the largest consumers of social media in the US. Social media usage among the 12-24 age group shows 74% of them using Facebook , 59% Instagram and 57% Snapchat.
The report also shows that 87% of Millennials (adults between the ages of 18 and 34) never leave their smartphone, day or night, 44% use the camera/video at least once a day and 76% use their smartphone camera to post pictures/videos on social media.
User generated content creation is exploding
Year-on-year, Pinterest pin creation is up 75%, Twitch video broadcasts are up 83% to over 11 million per month, stories written on Wattpad are up 140%, and Airbnb reviews are up 140%. 65% of Snapchat’s 100 million daily users create content every day. Content platforms have a lot to gain from strong creation tools.
China leads in digital innovation
In China, even the government is using services like Tencent to allow Chinese citizens to pay bills or apply for a passport. The engagement on these services is growing rapidly. For instance, on the Chinese New Year’s eve, WeChat users sent more than a billion “red envelopes"—gifts with randomized amounts of money—and served more than 200 million views of a documentary on smog in China in three days of its release.
China’s Xiaomi rises to to #1 smartphone
One of the most valuable startups in the world, Xiaomi, has gone from a relatively unknown technology company to one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world. After taking over a huge chunk of the Chinese market, the company has turned its sights to new ones like India.
Freelancers use Internet to do business
34% of the US workforce comprises freelancers. Meeker reveals a growing trend of freelancers doing business on the Net. 69% of the freelancers say that social networking has “drastically changed dynamics of networking" while 65% of them say that the Internet makes it easier to find work, 42% have done online freelance projects and 31% are able to find a gig online in less than 24 hours.
Key design concepts that have made a difference
The report mentions Google Search, Instagram and Tinder as the top three concepts in terms of design that have really worked well.
Google’s homepage is limited to a single search box and that has been key to maintaining its simplicity. The uncluttered simple layout shields the complexity of search.
Similarly, Instagram, the online mobile photo and video sharing app, introduced the option of only taking sqaure photos (as opposed to portrait versus landscape mode photos) which were uncommon at the time and could stand out. Dating app Tinder introduced a new element of swiping as compared to the traditional clicking and dragging option.
Diversity in technology
“Diversity matters. It’s good for business," Meeker says in her 178th slide. The best decision-making usually results from a diverse group of people sitting at the table, she says. Amen!