Meeker Internet Trends 2016: More Data, Slower Growth, Rising Millennials


In an age when a 30-second online ad is considered just way too long, Mary Meeker’s massive annual report on Internet trends still manages to grab the attention of the fast-moving tech world. The 213-slide report released last week hits on everything from rising global debt loads, to the number of daily video views on Snapchat (a cool 10 billion, btw). So there’s a ton to choose from, but here are just a few Meeker trends that caught our attention.

The Connected Minority

A headline finding in this year’s Meeker report was flat or negative growth in the number of Internet users and global smartphone use. Meeker has the total number of Internet users at 3 billion, far less than half of world population (7.4 billion), with growth at a flat 9%. Meanwhile, global smartphone user growth was +21%, down from +31% a year ago.

Meeker’s analysis noted markets in the developed world are highly penetrated, so new Internet and smartphone users are getting harder to find there. Meanwhile, barriers like low literacy and high costs persist in developing countries. Consider that the cost of a smartphone is 11% of an individual’s average income in Bangladesh and 15% in Vietnam.

Way, Way More Data

The flood of data coming at companies everywhere is well-documented, and Meeker documents it more. The amount of data in the digital universe approached 10 petabytes in 2015, and it’s grown at a compound annual growth rate of 50% since 2010. Meanwhile, the cost of storing data is plummeting, from nearly 20 cents per gigabyte in 2010, to a little over 5 cents now.

Meeker hits on some of what it means to have an increase in data, along with better tools to handle it: more interconnected and efficient analytics tools, automated customer insights and more efficient cloud use.

But rising concerns about protecting this data are a downside of the deluge, with 45% of companies more worried about online privacy now than they were a year ago and 74% saying they’ve limited their online activity in the last year because of privacy concerns.

Speech Recognition Goes Mainstream

Devices – like people – don’t always understand us when we talk to them. But Meeker says speech recognition is rapidly becoming more accurate. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of words recognized by machines grew from 1 million to 10 million. Meanwhile, Android reports that 20% of searches on its mobile app are now by voice, and that percentage is growing.

Word accuracy rates on voice recognition platforms by search engine giants like Baidu and Google are roughly 90%-95% right now. As it moves to 99%, Baidu Chief Scientist Andrew Ng says in the report, people will go from barely using voice recognition to using it all the time: “Most people underestimate the difference between 95% and 99% accuracy – 99% is a game changer.”

Millennial Mojo

The Millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996, is now 27% of the U.S. population, making them the country’s largest generation. And with their spending power set to rise significantly over the next 10 to 20 years, a lot of businesses are trying to figure them out.

Meeker’s report highlights a few of their Internet habits/expectations:

  • Facebook is by far their social network of choice, as they spend over a 1,000 minutes there per month, on average. Snapchat is next with 350 minutes.
  • They all have phones, but they don’t want businesses to contact them using it. The telephone was the least favorite contact channel by Millennials, even as it was No. 1 for every other generation. Millennials favored Internet/Web chats.
  • 46% of Millennials expect technology in a car to equal the technology on their smartphones.

This is just a tiny taste of the Meeker report. The full report is found at the link.