If a maven is, as Wikipedia maintains, “a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others”, then Mary Meeker is definitely a maven.
She started her professional career as a stockbroker at Salomon Brothers, but then morphed into an early version of a technology analyst at Morgan Stanley. Since this firm was the lead manager for the IPO of Netscape in August 1995, which triggered the first internet boom, one might say that she was present at the Creation.
As the boom gathered its frenzied pace, Meeker and a colleague published a slide presentation labelled “The Internet Report”, which became the nearest thing the nascent information-starved industry had to a statistics bible and ensured Meeker`s place in its hall of fame. Publication of the slide deck became an annual event.
Ms Meeker is now a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Silicon Valley`s poshest venture capital firm, but she`s still doing her thing. I`ve been wading through her latest “Internet Trends” report, which is an updated version of the one she published in May and has lots of intriguing statistics, some of which have pretty sobering implications.
We will get to the implications in a moment, but first let`s consider some of the numbers. Meeker estimates that 2.4 billion people are now using the net, which is a shade over a third of the world`s population. Overall, the number of internet users is growing at 8 percent a year, but in some countries (Iran, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Colombia, for example) the growth rates are much higher than that.
But it`s when one sees how all these people access the net that the data leap into life. Meeker claims that the world now has 1.1 billion smartphone users – people who can access the Internet and use the web via a handheld device.
This trend is reinforced by other developments. A third of US adults now own a tablet or e-reader (up from 2% less than three years ago). And Apple`s iPad is the fastest-selling mobile device of all time (which, in the Internet world, means “until the next Big Thing”). There`s a serious trend here.
The really staggering figures, however, are those relating to how people use their mobile devices. They already account for 13 percent of all internet traffic. This year, 24 percent of all online shopping on “black Friday” in the US was done via mobiles (up from 6 percent two years ago). And Meeker claims that in May this year mobile internet traffic in India overtook PC-based traffic.