Mary Meeker has been an Internet enterprise thought leader ever since she co-wrote the seminal "Internet Report" published by Morgan Stanley in 1995. Her reputation as a digital seer has survived the vicissitudes of dotcom bubbles and bursts, and when she speaks -- in her annual review of Internet trends -- people listen.
This year's bulletin from the future, delivered at All Things Digital's D10 Conference last week, should have a powerful impact on midmarket CIOs. Now a partner with venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Meeker delivered a blockbuster 112-slide address (pdf here). It's packed, as you'd expect, with data and insights, but the bottom line is quite simple: The enterprise is going mobile.
Among the trends Meeker cites:
- Rapid mobile adoption is still in its early stages.
- Global mobile traffic has grown within a short space of time -- about three to four years -- to 10 percent of total Internet traffic.
- During the same period, mobile app and advertising revenues have swollen from less than $1 billion to $12 billion.
- Although average revenue per user (ARPU) is lower for mobile than desktop, there are reasons to think it can grow -- and grow rapidly.
- We know, from the experience of desktop Internet, that ad dollars will eventually follow eyeballs.
The report repays careful study, but what midmarket CIOs can, and should, immediately take away is further confirmation that the world is embarked on a mass migration from desktop to mobile as primary Internet connection (Meeker has figues showing mobile use surpassing desktop in India) -- and a sense of urgency about catching the wave.
App sales and ad revenues may be of secondary interest to most midmarket enterprises. What's of prime importance, especially in the B2B sector, is developing channels of engagement with potential clients. Web pages, blogs, newsletters, and social messaging are key means to building and maintaining engagement, but it's becoming ever clearer that the theme sounding across all platforms is that of mobile accessibility.
Agile, device-agnostic content is the wave of the future, as desktop usage and mobile usage continue to converge. Some analysts fear that some midmarket CIOs are already falling behind the pace of the mobile revolution. With the world's population of 3G mobile subscribers currently standing at 1.1 billion and, according to figures quoted by Meeker, growing at 37 percent per year, the pace can hardly be overstated.
This is all good news, of course, for mobile networks, and for smartphone manufacturers, because there's plenty of room in the market for smartphones to catch up with feature phones. It should be good news, too, for enterprises that anticipated this stunning global migration -- whether by creating a Web presence accessible on multiple, mobile platforms, or by leveraging SaaS solutions to maintain an up-to-date, rapidly deployable app inventory.
It's the worst news in the world for those midmarket CIOs -- and there are some out there -- who have taken a head-in-the-sand approach to mobile, finding it all too difficult and waiting for it to go away.
When there's a wave coming, you can either catch it -- or get good and soaked.
— Kim Davis , Community Editor, Internet Evolution