Graham Christie
Jul 7, 2014

Seismic mobile shifts still reverberating

THE MOBILE HUB: This year's influential KPCB Internet Trends report may seem less earthshaking than in years past, but make no mistake: the sweeping changes continue.

Graham Christie
Graham Christie

I thought this month I’d zero in on Mary Meeker’s KPCB Internet Trends 2014 Report published 28 May.

KPCB’s report felt in some way less seismic in its impact than in previous years. On reflection this is probably because the internet 'Richter scale' has been given a good working over since this report’s first edition, and we’ve become accustomed to eye-watering growth figures. So context is everything, but when you look deeper, the changes sweeping the digital and mobile world remain immense.

Here are a few points I thought interesting.

Tablets are growing faster, (+53 per cent during CY13), than PCs did at anytime in their lifecycle—with still huge growth forecasted. Smartphones, which feel ubiquitous (particularly amongst this readership I suspect), have reached 30 per cent of the total global 5.2 billion mobile base. So again, huge growth possible. This is assisted by the increasing affordability of the devices, with the cost of a unit decreasing about 5 per cent annually since 2008. Mobile usage has reached 25 per cent of total global web traffic, growing from 14 per cent just last year, with Asia remaining the most mobile centric region with 37 per cent of all page views (StatCounter, 5/14). In terms of hardware in our region, of the established smartphone markets, Japan ranks second, Korea fifth, and Australia ninth. Of the so-called developing smartphone markets, China ranks first, India second, Indonesia fourth, and the Philippines 10th. Shipments of smart devices are now tracking at 4 to 5 times that of TVs or PCs.

The report highlighted data from Millward Brown’s AdReaction 2014 study showing how many minutes the populations of 30 countries, which together represent 70 per cent of the world’s total population, spend looking at ‘screens’, the previous day. Screens were laptop, smartphone, tablet and also the TV screen (see chart below). The headline is that smartphones/tablets are the most viewed and used in many countries with four APAC markets in the top five; Indonesia, Philippines, China, and Vietnam, with the first two of those markets indexing particularly high also in tablet share. Slightly lower down the list, at ninth is Thailand, indexing very high in smartphone and notably in contrast the lowest of all 30 countries in TV share. Australia’s smartphone share is close to the average across the 30 countries surveyed, with tablets indexing lower.

Mobile data traffic achieved growth of 81 per cent year over year with video a strong contributor. This is hardly new, but it’s evidence that there’s voracious appetite for mobile content. The creation of high-calibre programming and ad content to be put in front of quality audiences couldn’t be a bigger priority.

The report cites a big revenue opportunity gap of $30 billion (USA) for mobile to take up. This is based on time spent on device, which is an often-used metric but flawed I think. But whatever methodology, of course there’s a monetisation lag. The mobile industry’s capacity to exploit this undeniable opportunity is improving with the focus being applied in the right areas such as targeting and transparency. This does vary widely across our region, but in Australia for instance, mobile is taking increasing chunks of share with 21 per cent of all display in Australia that of mobile display, (iAB Australia).

China and its nearly 500 million internet users come in for attention this year. Chinese internet brands are travelling at light speed. Last year, only Tencent was in the top 10 globally; this year it’s joined by three others: Alibaba, Baidu, and Sohu. And it’s Tencent’s mobile business that’s the standout, with WeChat proving to become a powerhouse of m-commerce with its 400 million active chat users using the service to pay for taxis (5 million rides per day in March), restaurants, and social gaming.

Looking at second-screening at home (USA), sees 84 per cent of mobile owners using devices while watching TV. Most common activities shows 49 per cent of people surfing the web on a smartphone and 66 per cent on a tablet. And shopping, (I assume including the ‘window’ variety), being undertaken 24 per cent on smartphone and 44 per cent on tablet.

The area of this year's report that is the most interesting is where we’re headed. Meeker and her colleagues spend a large section on the intersection of findable and shareable data, wearables, sensors, and the internet of things, and this of course has great relevance to mobile. Data points such as 1.8 billion photos uploaded and shared per day, Pinterest having 30 billion ‘pins', and 800 million swipes a day on Tinder point to exponential behavioural changes.

In fact IDC has two thirds of the digital universe being consumer originated. IDC also thinks that 34 per cent of this sort of data could be useful. This is data from embedded systems, social media, photos, sounds and so on, with 7 per cent tagged, and 1 per cent analysed so far. A good example of where this plays out is with the Jawbone health wearable, which so far amongst its user base has logged 27,000 years worth of sleep. The company's technology manages and makes sense of 50 billion activity data points every week, then presents its insights on a rather nice app.

So across the 160 pages, there’s no lack of quality data, and it’s worth a read. For me the themes are:

  • The mobile ecosystem continues its relentless advance
  • Data and how they are structured and used are gathering pace
  • Second-screening is here to stay
  • Better and better interfaces are helping drive traffic to mobile.

Therefore, the opportunity for marketers has never been greater.

Graham Christie is partner with Big Mobile Group and a member of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) APAC Board of Directors


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