4 Things We Want to Know After Reading Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

4 Things We Want to Know After Reading Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Each year, marketers, tech writers, and overall online enthusiasts await the release of the 2018 Internet Trends Report: an annual presentation by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker covering the year's most pivotal statistics and trends in the online realm. Here are a few key questions we have about the 2018 Internet Trends Report -- and what the future of tech looks like. The time internet users spend online has increased, but when it comes to the number of new internet users, growth has significantly slowed. What we'll end up seeing, Franco predicts, "is a greater investment in more ways to connect existing users, rather than getting new users online." But even so, focusing innovation on new ways to connect people, rather than getting more of the population connected in the first place, is not without drawbacks, he says. So the future of growth, then, could be less about the newwaysthe large volume of people who are already online will start to connect (or the emerging technologies that will support them) -- and more about better options for access. But as the subject of data privacy becomes more front-and-center, especially amid these current events, many consumers are debating the value of privacy over a personalized experience. "I can imagine web hosting companies collect, handle, and keep personally identifiable information secure and data privacy compliant to their respective countries -- for a price." "I’ve had many teens talk to me about experiencing bullying from peers on social media and that this causes a lot of anxiety," she says. Again, this online (specifically, social media) behavior had real-life implications.

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Each year, marketers, tech writers, and overall online enthusiasts await the release of the 2018 Internet Trends Report: an annual presentation by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker covering the year’s most pivotal statistics and trends in the online realm.

The report, while citing key data points — growth in certain areas of internet use, online shopping trends, and indicators of the future of the workplace — is exhaustively comprehensive. Meeker leaves no stone unturned, identifying numerous pivotal areas where online user behavior is changing, and where investors, marketers, and others should take note.

The full presentation — which took place earlier this week at the 2018 annual Code Conference — can be viewed here.

And even though Meeker’s report covers an impressive amount of ground, the information and insights it contains often ends up raising additional questions. If the current is true of X, then what does the future look like for Y?

Here are a few key questions we have about the 2018 Internet Trends Report — and what the future of tech looks like.

4 Questions We Have About Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

1. The time internet users spend online has increased, but when it comes to the number of new internet users, growth has significantly slowed. Does the future of growth reside in ways for people to connect, rather than getting more people online?

According to Meeker’s report, 2017 saw 3.6 internet users globally: a total that amounts to more than half of the world’s population.

“When markets reach [the] mainstream,” she writes, “new growth gets harder to find — evinced by 0% new smartphone unit shipment growth in 2017.”

In other words, with the internet becoming more accessible to more people, growth among new users slows. However, among those who are online, the time spent there has increased.

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“It seems like we’ve reached a point where more internet users would require a greater investment in infrastructure, especially in underserved or underdeveloped regions,” says HubSpot Social Media Editor Henry Franco.

It’s what HubSpot Head of SEO Victor Pan says is called the “last mile problem”: a term often used when discussing supply chain or transportation to describe the final leg in the process of delivering a good or service to end consumers. That “last mile,” as the saying goes, is typically the least efficient step and said by some to be the most expensive part of the delivery process.

It applies to global internet access, Pan simply says, “because getting the internet to the last part of that population is really expensive,” largely because of its location in areas that are what he describes as “far and sparse.”

Where any product is available in a limited capacity, costs increase. “The remaining areas of the world without internet access are likely less able to afford it,” Pan explains. “In that case, you see the overall growth of internet users slowing down.”

What we’ll end up seeing, Franco predicts, “is a greater investment in more ways to connect existing users, rather than getting new users online.”

But even so, focusing innovation on new ways to connect people, rather than getting more of the population connected in the first place, is not without drawbacks, he says. “That could exacerbate skill, knowledge, and privilege gaps that already exist as a result.”

2. If the answer to Question 1 is “yes,” could this trend be a “golden ticket” for emerging technology like virtual reality, that has struggled to get a strong foothold in consumer and business markets alike?

“Let’s assume the answer is ‘yes,'” Pan says. “The golden ticket isn’t actually virtual reality … but rather, a decreased cost for internet access as competition and alternatives increase.”

So the future of growth, then, could be less about the newwaysthe large volume of people who are already online will start to connect (or the emerging technologies that will support them) — and more about better options for access.

It brings up the question of technology like 5G, which, while considered an emerging technology, is more concerned with better connectivity options than the more niche tools — see: VR — that are sometimes “added benefits” of being online.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, for instance, 5G dominated many of the discussions and presentations, with multiple mobile device manufacturers and wireless providers appearing to battle to be the top provider of this new type of connectivity. The “G” stands for generation, in that this is the fifth generation of this type of connectivity. Currently, 4G powers cellular connectivity like LTE.

Its goal, fittingly, is to support the rising number of mobile internet users, by providing better speed, handling more data, greater responsiveness, and connectivity to smart devices.

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