Mary Meeker’s annual report on Internet trends is a must-read for everyone who has a stake in what happens online. And isn’t that most of us anymore? Meeker, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, was nicknamed the “Queen of the Net” during the dot com boom. Her influence has far from faded among the movers and shakers of the web – Google’s Eric Schmidt tweeted praise for her report shortly after its publication.
This year, Meeker’s 112-slide deck contained plenty of gems related to mobile adoption, new interfaces, and better connectivity. However, she also highlighted many significant stats related to globalization.
Here are seven of the most critical trends in global Internet growth:
- Emerging markets are driving the world’s online future. In 2012, the world had 2.4 billion Internet users, with a growth of 8% since 2011. Much of that growth comes from emerging markets.
- The top countries fueling Internet growth may surprise you. The top 15 countries driving global internet growth are, in order of importance: China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Nigeria, Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Egypt, Colombia, Turkey, and Vietnam. Iran had the highest year-over-year growth in Internet users (205%), followed by Indonesia (58%) and Argentina (57%).
- Future Internet growth potential remains very high for many markets. Despite contributing significantly to Internet growth, some countries have only a small percentage of their total populations online, representing tremendous potential for future growth, such as India (11%), Indonesia (23%), and Nigeria (30%).
- Most top websites are American, but most Internet users are not. 80% of the Top 10 global Internet properties – including Facebook, Google, and Twitter – are from companies headquartered in the United States. However, 81% of their combined web visitors hail from elsewhere. In fact, two of the most trafficked websites in the world, Tencent and Baidu, have a user based of 0% in the United States.
- Smartphone adoption soars – especially in emerging markets. Smartphone subscriber growth remains rapid, with 1.5 billion current subscribers, and 31% growth in 2013. There is also ample room for market development and market penetration, with only 21% global penetration currently. Some of the fastest Smartphone adoption rates are found in India, Indonesia, Russia, and Mexico.
- Mobile traffic makes up a sizeable share of global Internet traffic. In 2008, mobile traffic accounted for less than 1% of all online traffic. Fast forward to May 2013, and mobile traffic now makes up 15%. In China, mobile Internet access actually surpassed PC access in the second quarter of 2012, and in South Korea, mobile search queries surpassed PC queries in the fourth quarter of 2012.
- Transnational migration will shape the Internet’s future. Meeker points out that 60% of America’s leading 25 companies were founded by 1st and 2nd generation Americans. However, current immigration policy is significantly hampering progress in the U.S. tech sector. The United States is sending more qualified foreign students back home after they graduate than ever before. The gap between H-1B employment visas and F1 visas issued has expanded by 350% over the past 20 years. In other words, many of the best minds are being cultivated in the U.S. education system, and then taking their knowledge, skills, and innovative ideas back to their home countries. Five high-tech companies alone – IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, and Qualcomm – currently have 10,000 combined job openings in the United States, but struggle to find qualified candidates within the United States.
The most important over-arching trend from Meeker’s report is one that should serve as a wake-up call for those doubting the importance of developing a strategy for global business diversification: not only is the future of the Internet global in nature – so is the present.