Hands down, the most anticipated presentation for all of us in the mobile and Internet space comes from Mary Meeker, a former analyst at Morgan Stanley and now a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Silicon Valley.
Over the years, Meeker has been quoted in a variety of sites and publications worldwide. And her most repeated forecast — the prediction that more people will access the Internet on a mobile device than on a personal computer by 2015 — is a key data point that continues to get play in industry presentations, conferences and research around the globe.
Meeker’s annual analysis of the trends and stats that matter most is eagerly awaited — and this year was no exception. Her latest research was unveiled this week at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, where she provided an inside look at the latest in mobile trends globally, including mobile penetration, mobile usage and mobile advertising spend (still out of sync with actual mobile use, by the way).
Among the highlights:
- Smartphones surpassed feature phone shipments in Western Europe in the second quarter of 2010 and in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2011. Meeker says “the rest of the world will follow.”
- The number of global mobile 3G subscribers has grown 35 percent year over year to total 936 million, or 17 percent of all mobile subscribers.
- There are approximately 835 million smartphone users worldwide, compared with a whopping 5.6 billion mobile users in total (this includes people with feature phones or low-end devices)
- Android phone adoption has ramped up faster than iPhone
- 85 percent of the world’s population is covered by commercial wireless signals, providing greater reach than the electrical grid (which covers 80 percent of the population)
Meeker pointed out that these developments bode well for the tech industry. As she put it: “Wow! Unprecedented times! If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”
What about the global economy? Meeker said economic woes worldwide are formidable, but not insurmountable. “(It’s) Often darkest before dawn,” she told the summit audience. “At least we know what the problems are. Now we need the resolve to fix them. Across-the-board sacrifice [is] needed.”
How I See It: Many people make bold predictions when it comes to mobile. Some of them are on the mark, and others miss it. Take the recent claim (via this interview in AdWeek) that the advertising spend on mobile will exceed that of television. The statement received headlines, but was promptly dismissed by many in the industry (including myself) as pure exaggeration. However, Meeker and her annual forecast have the credibility and track record to guide us. I encourage every marketer to listen up and put her on the “can’t miss” list.
Africa by the numbers
Sadly it wasn’t news to me when Nielsen reported that more people in Africa have access to a mobile device than they do to clean drinking water.
However, the other data points Nielsen published in this recent post summarizing the current state of mobile in South Africa were entirely new, shedding light on an abundance of opportunities for marketers everywhere.
Among the highlights:
- South Africa ranks fifth in the world for mobile data usage, ahead of the U.S., which ranks seventh.
- Facebook is the most popular social media platform, used by 85 percent of mobile subscribers. Half of all users of Facebook in South Africa access the site via mobile.
- Text messaging is used by almost 4.2 times more people than e-mail. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of consumers prefer sending texts to making voice calls, largely because it is less expensive to text than call. Additionally, 10 percent of respondents believe texting is a faster way of communicating.
- The majority (60 percent) of South African mobile users said they are aware of mobile banking services offered by banks, but only 21 percent say they use such services. A much larger number of those aware of the services said they would never use them, suggesting banks might need to invest in communicating the benefits and security of mobile banking.
Check out the full blog post and details on the study here.
How I See It: Mobile is global — and we should make it our business to keep abreast of usage and attitudes around the world. The last months have shown that many countries outside the U.S. are leading in areas of mobile, delivering us exciting case studies and key learnings. Informa reports that Nigeria leads in mobile banking; Hong Kong has the most mobile shoppers (with 35 percent using their mobile to research products and purchases); and we all know that Japan was the pioneer in barcodes and NFC. Granted, it’s difficult to draw parallels between mobile interests and activity from one continent to another. But what is useful and essential in my view is the periodic monitoring of mobile around the world to help us anticipate change – and capitalize on it.