Analyst Mary Meeker Sees Mobile, Emerging Markets Driving Internet Usage

If Warren Buffett is the “Oracle of Omaha” because of his ability to predict and read the market, Mary Meeker might be the “Prophet of Palo Alto.” For the last 20 years, Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has been issuing an annual report on internet trends that has been for the most part, dead on (if not entirely comprehensive and mostly general).

Meeker presented the 2014 version of her internet trends at Re/code’s Code Conference last week. While the main theme of the presentation wasn’t all that surprising – mobile is driving internet usage – some of the particulars in her presentation were pretty interesting. First among those is the areas where mobile usage is exploding the most.

According to data collected by Meeker, Africa is leading mobile usage worldwide, with 38 percent of the continent’s usage coming on mobile devices. Asia, less surprisingly, is right behind at 37 percent. The most interesting thing, however, is the change in usage from May of 2013: Africa’s mobile internet usage jumped 20 percent in just one year.

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Others have pointed out the emergence of mobile internet access in Africa, made possible by cheap handsets – most notably a terrific piece in Wired by Mat Honan about Facebook’s plan to break into Africa using cheap phones and low-bandwidth networks.

Also interesting was the breakdown of daily screen minutes between TV, desktop, smartphone and tablet. Meeker’s data shows the five countries largely thought of as the top “emerging markets” – Indonesia, Philippines, China, Brazil and Vietnam – driving mobile usage, especially time spent on tablets. Again, most likely because of the proliferation of cheap Android devices.

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One other trend Meeker presented was the ongoing difficulties mobile advertisers are having monetizing the aforementioned exploding internet usage. While mobile app revenue grew to $38 billion last year, up from $24 billion in 2013, advertising only accounted for 32 percent of that revenue, with app sales and in-app sales accounting for the bulk of the rest.

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You can see Meeker’s complete presentation over at Re/code.