June 6, 12 Mary Meeker – analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers – released her latest report on the incredible growth of Internet and mobile usage over the last four years. For example, global Internet users surpassed 2.2 billion in 2011, after adding 663 million users since 2008. Even with this growth there are still 2.7 times more mobile subscribers, with 5.99 billion subscriptions up by 1.55 billion over the year before.
Much of this growth in Internet use has been concentrated in emerging economies. China alone added 215 million Internet users, representing nearly one third of all growth in users for the period. China is followed by India (69 million users added), Indonesia (37 million added), Philippines (28 million), Nigeria (21 million), Mexico (19 million). eMarketer estimates that Brazil’s number of Internet users grew by 21 million to 79 million over the same period. Year on year growth for the period of 2008-2011 in these countries ranged from 12% in China to 44% in the Philippines.
These trends in Internet usage are impressive, but are far outstripped by mobile 3G trends: year-on-year growth rates in 3G subscribers reached 841% in India, 358% in Vietnam, 115% in China, and 99% in Brazil. These growth rates translated into 39 million total users in India, 12 million in Vietnam, 57 million in China, and 41 million in Brazil. These trends in 3G subscribers are similarly concentrated in emerging economies. Because of its increasing importance of mobile in the way people connect to each other, mobile Internet reached 10% of all Internet traffic in 2011, up from 1% in 2009.
These statistics all drive to two very interesting conclusions. First, the world is undergoing a fundamental change in the way that people connect with each other. More and more social interactions are taking place online and through mobile devices. Second, the concentration of growth of Internet and mobile in emerging economies suggests a possible diminishing of the technological gap between developed and developing countries. These two observations, taken together, indicate that there are extremely large opportunities to develop innovative business models built in emerging economies around mobile and Internet technology. Key to that growth in emerging economies is a native understanding of local markets needs.