Alibaba, Mobile, India and You: Mary Meeker and What’s Trending Now

Phil Schwarzmann

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Mary Meeker’s annual report on Internet trends is considered mandatory reading in the tech world, and this year’s report offered plenty of evidence that it deserves its reputation.

The backbone of the report is its insights into where the Internet is heading globally, and who or what is driving the trends. But it also peeks into various corners of the digital economy – everything from global Internet advertising (still growing, but not as quickly), smartphone use by millennials (87% say their smartphone never leaves their side, day or night. Ever.), to drones (consumer drone shipments rising rapidly).

We at Equinix can’t sum up the 197-page report in one blog post. But we can talk about some of what we found most interesting:

Mobile Takes Over.

There were 5.2 billion mobile phone users in 2014, equal to 73% of the world’s population.

In the U.S. this year, just over half of the 5.6 hours per day that adults spent using digital media was on their mobile devices – the first time that number has exceeded 50%. Mobile also accounted for nearly a quarter of the time adults in the U.S. spent on all media (including TV, radio and print) last year. But only 8% of advertising dollars were spent on mobile.

One downside to the proliferation of mobile is that the devices are increasingly targeted by attackers. Adware grew 136% to 410,000 apps between 2013 and first three quarters of 2014. The adware accesses personal information, which can be used to launch phishing attacks.

Alibaba = Crazy Growth

The Chinese online commerce company Alibaba is now the world’s third-largest global public Internet company, with a market value of about $233 billion (Behind Apple and Google, ahead of Facebook). That’s impressive, but its growth rate is truly astonishing. From 2007 to 2014, Alibaba’s gross merchandise value (GMV) rose from almost nothing to more than $350 billion. The next-largest e-commerce company, Amazon, has a GMV of about $125 billion.

Alibaba is the only Internet company based outside the U.S. to crack the Top 5 global Internet companies in market value. (Three other Chinese firms, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com, are the only other non-U.S. companies to hit the Top 15.)

The (Wo)Man in the Mirror

Take a selfie. The content on the Internet is increasingly being generated by you, the user. Examples abound in the Meeker report:

_ User-generated video of the Winter X-Games, curated by Snapchat, drew 30 million viewers in 24 hours this January

_ User-curated/shared video on Facebook drew 4 billion views per day in the first quarter of 2015 – up from 3 billion in the previous quarter.

_ Every minute, more than 24 hours of reading material is posted on Wattpad, which hosts user-generated written content.

_ Users are increasingly reporting news on Twitter faster than major media sources, according to Dataminr.

India Rising

India has 1.2 billion people, but Internet users accounted for only about 20% of that population in 2014. The Meeker report says the country may be on the verge of explosive Internet growth. India added 63 million Internet users in 2014, more than any other country. India is already the second-largest market for both Facebook and LinkedIn, and it was Twitter’s fastest-growing market as of March.

Mobile technology may lead the way if the Internet takes off in India. Mobile accounts for 65% of total Internet traffic in India, the second-highest percentage globally (behind Nigeria). And 41% of the e-commerce sales in India were completed on a mobile device in 2014, the highest percentage anywhere.

There’s much, much more, and it’s worth checking out the entire Meeker report at the link.