Online advertising is rising rapidly, we can thank gaming for bettering us, healthcare tech is rocketing and India is a “leader like no other”. These are just some of the themes industry analyst Mary Meeker covers in her annual, much anticipated Internet Trends Report.
The rapid fire, humorous tech probe is a yearly highlight at the Californian Code Conference. Add the huge media interest, and you could call it the tech world’s annual health check.
Let’s look at some of the more striking specifics from Meeker’s candid look:
The healthcare uprising
This was the first time healthcare was included in Meeker’s report, which claimed that tech in health is at a “digital inflection point” – the two are converging to present fresh, constructive solutions. Health data is getting increasingly digital, and electronic records are becoming more common. The advent of fitness trackers and health apps means there is more user data than ever. Genomics becoming digitalized makes it so much more cheaper to study – we could see more breaking insights and products generated more quickly.
The report says time spent with media on mobile devices is increasing at a faster rate than ad spending. Still, online advertising is skyrocketing. Global ad spending on the internet is expected to grow faster than TV in 2017, and Google and Facebook carried on taking the bulk of internet ad spending at 85 percent.
Chops and swaps
With eCommerce accelerating (15 percent year-on-year in the US), customers are king (and queen). To keep up its appeal, Meeker described how companies like Lowe’s – the US chain of home improvement/DIY stores – are teaming up with Google to offer a new kind of augmented reality shopping experience. They developed and built an app allowing customers to map rooms in their homes in real time to assess how various options could look. In the meantime Amazon has introduced a ‘subscription’ store for customers, bringing all its subscriber-only offers under one roof. So many retail stores are closing, that the numbers may break a 20-year record; more and more retail stores are getting rid of their buildings and going online. And yet, digital native Amazon is opening bricks-and-mortar stores.
Meeker said we can thank early interactive gaming for many present-day internet services. For example? Downloadable content, digital recognition, interactive storytelling and learning – just some of the many digital functions we can attribute to gaming. The report claims gaming is also the “most engaging form of social media”. When put into factual context, this makes sense – there are 2.6 billion gamers in the world, up from 100 million in 1995. And, revenue is up 9 percent year-on-year. “In an era of perceived disengagement, perhaps engagement is actually rising,” Meeker says knowingly.
Growing tech wings in Asia
There was a special focus on India which Meeker described as one of the “most fascinating markets for the internet on the planet.” While overall figures show global internet growth decelerating, India’s Internet user numbers grew more than 28 percent in 2016. 355 million users to be precise, with only China ahead of it. Mobile web traffic is up 80 percent, unsurprising perhaps with the majority of first-time Internet users in India getting online via their smartphones. India is also a “leader like no other” in digital IDs – one billion Indians use them for day-to-day activities and more.
And speaking of China, another country that has special focus in the report, we see that private tech enterprises drove wealth creation, and time online surpassed the amount of time people spend watching TV in 2016. What’s more, is that China had 700 million mobile Internet users last year.
Music to their ears
After 16 years of seeing its revenues decline due to digitization, the music industry finally took an upbeat turn with revenue up 11 percent in 2016. Yes – that’s the first spurt of growth after 16 years of -4 percent annual growth. Downloading and streaming finally closed the gap created by diminishing CD sales. Spotify leads the subscription and streaming charge, going from 0 – 50 million subscribers in fewer than nine years. The top five TV networks have seen a 10 percent average decline, while streaming platform Netflix was up about 700 percent over the last five years.
In her closing statement Meeker said, “We believe we are in the time of computer power and human potential”. Read more of her high level industry evaluation to find out how this is becoming reality.