The latest edition of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report lists the current number of worldwide Internet users at 2.4 billion, up 8 percent from last year. Even more impressive than the robust online growth is the astounding growth of mobile. According to KPCB’s annual Internet Trends report, there are now 1.5 billion mobile users worldwide, up from 1.1 billion last year. That represents a 30 percent growth in mobile users.
Mobile traffic has also continued to grow, and now accounts for 15 percent of all Internet traffic, compared with 10 percent last year.
The report reviews the shifting online landscape, which has become more social and content rich, with expanded use of photos, video and audio. Looking ahead, the report finds early signs of growth for wearable computing devices, like glasses, connected wrist bands and watches – and the emergence of connected cars, drones and other new platforms.
Soon interconnected devices will allow for a real-world synergy previously only found in science fiction. Mobile devices are a big part of this evolution, particularly with mobile device adoption rates on the rise. But despite the large body of online content that’s been optimized for mobile consumers, the opportunities for mobile advertising remain largely untapped.
Following Consumers to New Devices
Devices used to access the Web are undergoing a massive and rapid transformation. Smartphones and tablets are becoming much more prominent among consumers even on a global scale.
According to StatCounter Global Stats — as cited by the KPCB study — the percentage of global Internet traffic coming from mobile devices is growing by an average of 1.5 times its traffic rate over the previous year. That rate of growth is expected to hold steady and possibly accelerate in the next few years as more consumers adopt mobile devices.
And while the United States is one of the leaders of that change, it’s hardly alone. Internet and mobile usage outside the U.S. is exploding, and it’s often doing so in surprising ways: By the end of 2012, for example, more Chinese citizens were accessing the Web through smartphones than desktop computers. These high usage rates create huge opportunities for mobile ads and, ideally, mobile revenue streams, but so far many companies are failing to realize this potential.
Bracing for the Next Tech Cycle
Historically, technology cycles have tended to last about 10 years. But, as the study notes, the computer industry seems to be ahead of the curve as it stands on the brink of the next cycle: Wearable technology, such as Google Glasses, and other Web-connected devices integrated in many everyday gadgets and even in major products such as cars.
The problem for marketers is that many companies haven’t caught up with the current mobile device trend. Poor mobile infrastructure, a failure to effectively advertise through these platforms, and a reluctance to invest in mobile revenue opportunities have held wary businesses back.
With this new cycle on the horizon, companies need to get busy developing their mobile properties and the opportunities that come with. If they don’t, they’ll fall even further behind the tech curve and have trouble catching up to their competitors.
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