Internet Trends 2015: Top 10 takeaways from Mary Meeker’s annual presentation

Mary Meeker's annual Internet trends report is another must-read. Video continues to grow, accounting for 64% of all Internet traffic. Xiaomi sells the most smartphones. And users generate a bucketload of (typically free) content.

KPCB Mary Meeker - Internet Trends Report 2015
Say it ain't so. Vertical video viewing. Just one amusing takeaway from VC Mary Meeker's annual Internet Trends Report.

Yes, mobile is king. 73% of the people in the world use a mobile phone (smartphone or feature phone). That’s 5.2 billion people. Astonishing, especially when you consider just two decades earlier population penetration of mobile was at just 1%.

It’s eye-popping stuff, and one of several key takeaways from VC Mary Meeker’s annual look at Internet trends.

For those who have yet to see her talks, they are must-see TV. Or must-see PowerPointing. She’s known for swift, precise delivery, and covers a lot of ground in short order, making her content full of useful, actionable items for both us industry observers, and also for those who market, build products and/or services.

This year’s edition of Meeker’s “Internet Trends” report weighs in at a whopping 196 slides. I’ve perused all of it–requiring at least two espressos, straight-up–and jotted down 10 things that really caught my eye, the mobile points (clearly an obvious one) made in opening notwithstanding.

1. DON’T GET NETSCAPED

In 1995 Netscape was the #1 publicly traded Internet company with a market cap of $5.4 billion. It’s nice to be large and in charge. But nothing lasts forever, especially in tech. See: Web.com, Wavo, iLive.

2. THE INTERNET IS MATURING

That’s another way to say growth is slowing. Meeker notes that y/y growth was 8% last year, compared to 10% and 11% in 2013 and 2012 respectively. The trend with smartphone subscriptions is similar.

3. VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO

Video is accounting for more Internet Traffic than ever before. 64% of all consumer traffic in 2014 was video. And, get this: Facebook gets 4 billion (!) video views per day. That’s up 4x in just 6 months (as an aside, I wonder if that includes auto-start videos, ones that start playing as we scroll down our feed, but ultimately ignore?).

4. INTERNET AD SPEND IS UP & TO THE RIGHT

No surprise here. Ad dollars continue to move onto the Web, with Mobile spend growth (35% y/y) making up for desktop spend deceleration (11% y/y).

5. OH. NO. VERTICAL VIDEO VIEWING

This one hurts me a bit. More and more of us (29%) are watching videos in portrait mode (vertical). As someone who has dedicated a large portion of my life producing videos this pains me, but it’s completely understandable. Thankfully the majority still rotate our devices and watch videos as Alfred Hitchcock intended.

6. APPS: MESSAGING DOMINATES

WhatsApp. Facebook Messenger. LINE. Viber. KaoKaoTalk. WeChat. 6 of the top 10 most used apps are related to messaging.

7. USER-GENERATED CONTENT IS EXPLODING

Whether its Pins on Pinterest, or videos on SnapChat, Facebook and YouTube, or video game streaming on Twitch, or audio on SoundCloud, or stories on Wattpad, or reviews on Airbnb, or…

8. TWITTER IS THE FIRST SOURCE FOR NEWS

9. HOW GROWTH FOR BETTER AND WORSE: DRONES, CYBER ATTACKS

Drone shipments grew 167% y/y. A cottage industry no doubt. Meanwhile cyber attacks continue to grow, with 20% of breaches coming from insiders.

10. CHINA LEADS IN SMARTPHONE SHIPMENTS

Not Apple. Not Samsung. China-based Xiaomi ships more phones than anyone else on the planet. Something to keep in mind: this volume is driven primarily domestically. Soon, expect Xiaomi to enter the US market. I suspect this could have major disruptive implications, especially when it comes to pricing models, for the existing smartphone players.

There’s plenty more in Meeker’s report of course. The growth of Internet is India is one important takeaway when it comes to the global outlook. It’s, simply, an exhaustively comprehensive report. I didn’t dig too deep into some of the enterprise trends, though there’s plenty of innovation happening there. Also, there’s a good section on demographics with useful information for those interested, for example, in marketing to millennials.

One interesting omission perhaps, is the absence of much information about start-ups. Given that Meeker is a VC, and that the start-up economy is (ominously?) red-hot, it surprised me not to see information related to areas of investment, and trends in seed funding, etc. I may have missed that, and will give the report another read to be sure.

You can read the full “Internet Trends 2015” report at the Kleiner Perkins web site. It’s worth your time, even if you only skim it for key points that support your existing assumptions, or perhaps challenge them with new ideas and trends to consider.

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