J003-Content-Internet-Pundit-Meeker-Talks-Mobile-Messaging-More_SQEvery year Mary Meeker gives a detailed ‘state of the state’ of the Internet industry. So why should anyone care what Meeker says? She happens to be one of the most knowledgeable and experienced analysts and thinkers out there, having started on Wall Street at Merrill Lynch and Solomon brothers, and now serving as a venture capitalist.

The annual market run-down and prognostication this time runs 196 PowerPoint slides – so there’s lot to chew on.

While we all think the Internet is everywhere, last year only 39% of the world’s population was on the net, Meeker said in her Internet Trends – 2015 report for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. That accounts for 2.6 billion souls, but the potential is for far more. Access to the knowledge and communication the Internet offers is a great equalizer and an imperative if we are to advance third world development.

On the other hand, last year there were 5.2 billion mobile phones users, some 73% of the world’s population. So why aren’t all these folks also Internet users? Because 60% of those mobile phones aren’t smartphones. The other issue is worldwide mobile bandwidth. It takes a lot of bandwidth that in turn costs a lot of money to turn a mobile phone into an Internet device.

Next Meeker looked at market capitalization, and some of the stats left me a bit surprised. Apple, at (US) $763 billion was by far the most valuable. Google was a distant second at (US) $373 billion. Clearly, hardware has more value than software services. Who would have thought?

Meeker didn’t just go broad, she also went deep, and she looked at how vendors and users are re-imagining messaging. Messaging is probably the most commonly used computing task. Instead of just pounding away on Outlook or Gmail, more folks (and not just the young) are using all kinds of new-fangled chat, IM and other social and mobile messaging tools.

Hot messaging apps include WhatsApp with some 800 million users, Facebook Messenger with 600 million, and Snapchat with round about 100 million. Global messaging leaders aren’t just found in the West and Asian countries have their own messaging platforms available and used worldwide. China’s WeChat has almost 550 million users, Japan’s LINE 205 million and Korea’s KakaoTalk 48 million. Because these apps are so simple, and often so focused, many smartphones users have swapped to these apps from the boring old SMS.

Content is also changing since the Internet is in constant flux. We no longer rely upon major newspapers and TV studios for our daily content, instead we build it and publish it ourselves. YouTube is testament to that, but so are a lot of other services, such as Pinterest, Snapchat, and user generated news, reviews, opinion and even literature. It’s crazy to think even my eight year-old wants her own YouTube channel to talk about Minecraft.

In fact, Meeker argues the ages of the users setting these trends range from 12 to 24 year olds. These youngsters are also driving smartphones, with 87% of millennials saying their phone never leaves their side, and 80% reaching first and foremost for their phone as soon as they wake up in the morning.

Breaches and other security woes

Meeker also addressed a handful of security issues, including data breaches and insider threats, items we covered extensively on the GFI Blog here and here. She explained how some 20% of breaches come from inside: “In most breaches, attackers have foothold within internal networks & spread / steal data through privilege abuse / credential misuse,” Meeker noted.

Just as mobile is the new way folks communicate and compute, it is also the new vector of attack, data harvesting and breaches. “Adware grew 136% to 410,000 apps between 2013 and first three quarters of 2014, giving attackers access to personal information such as contacts, which can subsequently be used to launch phishing attacks,” Meeker said, adding that 22% of the breaches involve lost or stolen devices.

It doesn’t just take a long time to discover a breach (and in a recent report it was said to take sometimes up to 250 days), it also takes ages to respond. She explains that despite the many security products used, breaches that months to discover and it is mainly due to the fact that ”4 of 5 organizations don’t update their breach response plans to account for changing threat landscape and corporate processes. But things can get better as Meeker revealed that “with proper technology, threat intelligence & expertise, detection to response times has been reduced by >90%.”

If you would like a full of the copy of the Mary Meeker presentation you can download it here (opens a .pdf), and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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