At the 2011 Web 2.0 Summit on Tuesday, Mary Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, reviewed Internet trends, as she has for the past several years.
Meeker's list, based on many data points, includes some positive trends and some negative ones.
While Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google remain mega-leaders, Internet companies from China and Russia, like Baidu, Tencent, and Yandex, are becoming more successful and influential. According to Meeker, 81% of users of the top global Internet properties are outside the U.S.
Mobile subscriber growth is continuing at a pace that matches the meteoric rise of Internet adoption, a rate that puts other technologies like TV to shame. Meeker cited 35% year-on-year mobile 3G subscriber growth and noted that smartphone shipments have surpassed feature phone shipments in the U.S. and Europe. She also highlighted the explosive growth of iPhone, iPad, and (particularly) Android.
[ Data is the new black. Read Web 2.0 Summit Preview: Meet The Data Frame. ]
Interface matters. "Before Steve Jobs, computers were utilitarian tools for computation," said Meeker. "After Steve, computers became beautiful objects we could use in thousands of ways to aim to make life better."
In the wake of the iPhone and the iPad, there's a revolution in the way we interact with computers, through touch and voice, while mobile.
"We think the next big things are the things on the sides of your head," said Meeker. "Those would be your ears." She was referring to the innovation seen in voice recognition, sound creation and sharing, and audio interfaces like headphones recently.
E-Commerce and mobile commerce continue to grow. E-commerce now represents 8% of all retail commerce and looks like it will continue to become an even greater percentage of retail sales. Meeker noted that the number one reason for in-store purchase abandonment among U.S. smartphone users is that they found the item online at a better price. The number two reason was that smartphone users found it at another store at a better price. Retailers have to compete online and on mobile devices.
Online advertising is booming and the ad spending is out of whack--marketers are not spending in proportion to where people are spending their time, Meeker said. Print looks to be hugely overpriced, with print representing 8% of people's time and 27% of ad spending. Mobile by contrast accounts for 8% of people's time and 0.5% of ad spending. Google's paid click growth continues to accelerate, having jumped from between 15% and 18% between Q2 2010 and Q2 2011 to 28% in Q3 2011. And things look good for Facebook too, with time spend in social networks now higher than time spent on portals.
Content creation has become commoditized: Newspaper revenue has been declining for five straight years; Google however has seen its revenue rise. The lesson is that aggregation pays, assuming that some copyright case or new law doesn't end Google's golden era.
America Leads In Mobile Innovation
Despite the general economic doldrums in the U.S., American companies are leading the way toward the mobile era. Made-in-the-USA smartphone operating systems--Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile--have gone from 5% market share in 2005 to 65% today. "The pace of innovation in Silicon Valley may be unprecedented," said Meeker.
Mobile Devices Are Empowering People
Some 85% of people in the world have access to the wireless grid, more than have access to electricity. Over 200 million farmers in India receive payments via mobile devices. Meeker pointed out how instrumental such devices have been during disasters like the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
"When people look back at this era that we're living in now, they'll say this was the time people got empowered by mobile devices," said Meeker.
Identity will remain a big issue, particularly now that Facebook has over 800 million users, about half of whom log in on any given day. There are some 835 million smartphone users, a number expected to grow to 1.4 billion within two years. Plug those users into social networks and services and that's a lot of identification and authentication, for better or worse.
The economy could collapse. Or not. The only thing that's certain is that there's no collective certainty about where the economy is headed. Stock market volatility is twice its historic average. Consumer confidence is well below average. More businesses are lowering their capital budgets in Q3 than did so in Q2 or Q1. Maybe shaky is the new normal.
See more of what Meeker had to say to the Web 2.0 audience: