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Global Internet and Mobile Usage Growth Slows, But Bright Spots Indicate Trends

June 08, 2015

For years, analysts and tech writers have been able to report, without needing to really check the numbers, that the global growth of Internet and smart phone usage was explosive. It took a long time for the world to switch from slower Internet connection methods like dial-up and DSL to higher-speed modes such as cable, satellite and fiber optic. A significant portion of cell phone users were still fiddling with feature phones that limited their use of apps or their access to the Internet.

Now, it seems, some things are beginning to slow down, according to Meeker, a former Wall Street analyst who now works at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Meeker is well known for her annual assessment of the global Internet economy, in which she takes large amounts of data on everything from e-commerce to wireless to household spending on telecom. Meeker has found that while overall growth looks impressive, a closer look at the numbers reveal that there are hot spots and cold spots.

Globally, Internet user growth in 2014 was eight person, which represents a slow rate than 2013’s 10 percent. In 2014, smartphone use grew 23 percent, but again…this number was down from 2013’s 27 percent growth. Even the social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter are seeing some slowing down: both companies’ average revenue per user and monthly active users have stagnated.

According to Liz Gannes writing for Re/Code, a closer look at Meeker’s numbers reveals where the trends are.

“Video accounted for 64 percent of consumer Internet traffic in 2014 (versus 62 percent in 2013) and 55 percent of mobile traffic (versus 52 percent in 2013),” she wrote. “Facebook now gets four billion video views per day, up four times in six months; while Twitch has 100 million monthly active users for its live streaming, up 122 percent this year.”

via Shutterstock

Mobile video – and a corresponding trend with a growth in “vertical viewing” on mobile devices, is more than customers watching cute cat videos. It’s customers using video in combination with mobile e-commerce (watching demonstration videos or ads, seeking live video help from contact centers or viewing video-based communications). It’s another sign that real-time communications (RTC) is starting to revolutionize how consumers interact with companies.

Meeker’s research notes that a number of trends are beginning to converge: mobile e-commerce and video, for example, mobile advertising and the newest upcoming trend, “Buy It” buttons that can be put all over mobile Web pages to blend the browsing experience and the shopping experience.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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