Venture capitalist Mary Meeker released on Wednesday her highly anticipated annual report on Internet trends, capturing the tech world’s state of play. This year’s biggest insights include: the sprawling growth of the gaming industry, slowing mobile phone shipments, and online ad dollars surpassing that of TV.
Meeker considers gaming the most engaging form of social media, and suggests that early interactive gaming paved the way for much of the contemporary web. She points to how notable features of gaming, including interactive storytelling, messaging, and novel camera angles have been adopted by other forms of popular media and technology. Mobile messaging apps, car companies, streaming services, and sports media have all taken a page from the world of video games. Perhaps, she said, gaming has helped prime society for the development of human-computer interaction.
She tallies the global revenue for interactive gaming at $100 billion (6,44,962 crores) globally, with a 9 percent increase from 2015. And when gaming is compared to other digital media, it beats out other popular platforms in the amount of time users spend with it. People spend an average of 51 minutes playing console games every day, edging out Facebook (50 minutes), Snapchat ( 30 minutes), and Instagram (21 minutes), according to her report.
Like many other industries with an international presence, tech faces a shifting political landscape. Meeker seized on the national debate over immigration, where many of technology’s biggest names have clashed with the Trump administration over the president’s travel ban and broader immigration policy. Attracting talent from overseas is key to job creation in the tech industry, Meeker said. According to the report, 60 percent of the most highly valued tech companies in the US were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. In 2016, those companies staffed 1.5 million employees.
One notable first for the report came in the advertising section. The money spent on US mobile advertising has eclipsed that of the desktop, marking the flow of ad dollars and attention toward phones. Online advertising in general, which combines phones and computers, is up 22 percent from last year, totaling $73 billion (roughly Rs. 4,70,862 crores). The report pins the growth of online ads on improved methods to measure their efficacy, and more dollars chasing the rapid rise in phone usage.
Just as mobile has finally bested the desktop in advertising cash, Meeker predicts that in the next six months, the amount of money spent on online ads globally will surpass that of TV advertising. In 2016, TV and Internet advertising each totaled just under $200 billion.
Google and Facebook continue to dominate the US market for Internet advertising. Their combined revenue and growth tower above the rest of the industry. Google’s revenue for 2016 was over $35 billion (roughly Rs. 2,25,807 crores) and is up 22 percent from last year, the report said. Facebook took in roughly $14 billion (roughly Rs. 90,296 crores) from online ads in the US and saw a whopping 62 percent boost from 2015. Meanwhile, every other online advertiser, which Meeker lumped into a category called “others”, took in more than $20 billion, with a 9 percent increase, compared to last year. The report attributed the growth in Internet advertising to firms finding better ways of targeting audiences and measuring their engagement.
And while more of the world is coming online, something approaching universal connectivity remains elusive. The number of Internet users around the world, now at around 3.4 billion, continues to climb, but the level of growth remains flat, at 10 percent.
More smartphones are being shipped too, but growth is slowing down. Whereas global smartphone shipment numbers jumped by 24 percent in 2014, and 10 percent in 2015, that figure dwindled to 3 percent in 2016.