- Smartphone growth is slowing, and 2017 was the first year without a growth in smartphone shipments, according to Mary Meeker’s annual internet trends report delivered at the Code Conference, Recode reported. Internet user growth increased 7% in 2017, less than the 12% growth in 2016. About half of the global population is online, meaning there are fewer people still to connect, she said.
- During the presentation, Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, also addressed how mobile payments are becoming more streamlined, and China is leading in mobile payment adoption with more than 500 million active users in 2017.
- Other highlights include the increased consumer interest in voice products, with Amazon Echo installments in the U.S. growing from 20 million in Q3 2017 to more than 30 million in Q4. Sales via e-commerce are also increasing, while brick-and-mortar retail sales are declining. E-commerce sales grew 16% in 2017, from 14% in 2016. Amazon’s share of those sales is also growing, making up 28% last year.
A key takeaway from the report is that a "privacy paradox" has developed based on internet companies making low-priced and personalized services from data that consumers are embracing while regulators have different attitudes about what constitutes proper use of this data. Internet companies like Facebook are now trying to unravel the "unintended consequences" of products based on data, a process that could take a long time. In the mean time, it is "irresponsible to stop innovation and progress," Meeker said.
In fact, the rate of technology disruption and consumer adoption of technology is speeding up, per Meeker, which should be welcome news for marketers planning to add new technologies, like voice or artificial intelligence, to their strategies. The amount of time people spend online is also increasing. In 2017, U.S. adults spent 5.9 hours per day using digital media, an increase over 5.6 hours in 2016, according to the report. Of that time, 3.3 hours were spent on mobile, which is driving the growth of digital media consumption.
As e-commerce and mobile payments continue to grow, marketers should focus on delivering unique, personalized messages to drive sales and digital engagement. Consumers expect brands to provide relevant content that meets their needs. Most marketers have adopted some elements of personalization in their marketing, but have often struggled to get it right, sometimes coming off as creepy or failing to create tailored messaging.
Meeker’s report also highlighted how tech companies comprise a bigger portion of U.S. business, driving corporate research and development and capital spending. Tech companies made up 25% of U.S. market capitalization in April. Tech companies are also competing in different ways. For example, Google has expanded beyond an ads platform into commerce with Google Home Ordering. And, Amazon is growing its advertising business.