Mary Meeker’s year in review: Digital trends and predictions


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Technology and you

No doubt 2012 was a big year for all things social – and we were pleased to see Mary Meeker’s (of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers) follow-up to her May report – “2012 Internet Trends Year-End Update,” which details many of the momentous technological shifts and warns of continuing tech disruption to business as usual.

Meeker’s data foreshadows both new and continuing trends important for any business, which include changes in mobile and social technology, as well as their impacts on our personal and business lives. For example, the digital goods landscape has experienced a reimagination from dedicated sites to democratization of commerce and sales through social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and we must accept and embrace this change to remain relevant and prosperous.

Mobile trends: Adapt now

Pull out your smartphone – I know you have it on you – and imagine throwing it out the window. I know I can’t, and I know we’re not alone. Smartphones and tablets are rapidly taking on more importance – Meeker reported that 13% of all internet traffic today comes from mobile, compared with just 1% back in 2009. In India, mobile traffic has actually surpassed traffic from desktops, and monetization of the mobile medium continues to gain momentum, with 67% of revenue coming from apps and 33% from ads.

Image 1: Mobile monetization is happening, so take advantage for your brand

Black Friday serves as a prime example of new consumer purchasing habits; mobile accounted for 24% of total consumer spending, 4x higher than just two years ago. Black Friday wasn’t a one off, as mobile app and ad revenue now tops $19 billion, having grown 129% per year since 2008.

This data serves as a signal to start (or continue) investing resources in mobile now. Mobile sales overtook desktop/laptop sales in Q4 of 2010, and are predicted to overtake those sales for the entire year of 2013. Mobile first interactive web design, touch-based navigational controls, and more should play an integral role in your technology strategy moving forward. Understanding the dramatic shift to mobile is key to your success today — and leadership tomorrow. The brands with whom we work see 25-50% of their traffic come from mobile, and that’s only going to increase as time goes on.

Consumers and businesses: “Friends” forever

Facebook leads the charge in the reimagination of our world through a social lens. Knowledge, photography, news, magazines, idea building, product sales and more have already been transformed. Business itself has become a social venture; information is now accessible anywhere, updated in real-time, with crowdsourced contributions from anyone.

In this new world, information is both owned and produced by everyone. User generated content (UGC), as well as open-access content reigns supreme, and allows brands to engage in mutually beneficial exchanges, such as free resources for contact information or consumer endorsements. Some industries see this as a major threat, with media outlets now combatting citizen reporters on Twitter and other social channels for viewership. Others thrive in the new world, such as Doritos turning over creation of a multimillion dollar super bowl ad to fans in exchange for a cash prize and a chance to direct the next Transformers movie. In previous years, their fan-made commercials won top ratings among voters, showcasing the benefits of giving power to the people.

Technology in the business and personal worlds

Technology’s effect on business isn’t just limited to mobile and social; the old asset-heavy lifestyle of the past has transformed into our new asset-light world of Google, Spotify, Paypal, YouTube, Netflix, Zipcar, TaskRabbit, Amazon, Square and more.

In this world, fewer products and services do more, and for less money. Your smartphone – assuming you didn’t throw it out the window a minute ago – plays the roles of MP3 player, video player, camera, gaming device, GPS, and more. Camera phone sales surpassed those of standalone cameras in 2008, so this asset-light lifestyle isn’t a new phenomenon, but the scope of change keeps increasing.

Today’s cycle of tech disruption is faster and broader, with new technology catching on and taking over in the blink of an eye. In 2001, the iPod changed the music industry, causing record-breaking adoption of digital music players. The first iPhone again disrupted the market in 2007, and saw much faster adoption, and the iPad further sped up the disruption cycle in 2010. Two years ago, 2% of U.S. adults owned tablets, versus 29% today.

Image 2: Disruptive companies can expect rapid adoption of their offerings

Act now or risk being left behind

In this age of instant worldwide connection and constant sharing, disruptive technology catches on very quickly. Businesses need to be on the lookout for these trends (or set them yourselves) to stay ahead of the pack. Even titans like Microsoft can struggle when they follow in the heels of Apple and Google’s market disruption, as we’re seeing with slower adoption rates of Windows 8.

To stay relevant, we must monitor and understand consumer and market behaviors, and we need to be willing to adapt to changes quickly and efficiently. And those of us not yet optimizing for mobile and social are already several steps behind.

To learn from the companies ahead of the curve in social marketing, download our latest white paper, Top Social Engagement Lessons from Jetblue, Zappos,, and Kirkland’s.

What do you think of Mary Meeker’s new data? How will you be adjusting your social strategy to meet your 2013 goals? Share with me in the comments below or on Twitter.

Errol Apostolopoulos
Moontoast's Social Activation Engine is a SaaS and cloud-based social marketing, social commerce and social analytics platform. As VP Product, Errol leads product strategy and management for Moontoast's innovative social technology platform. Previously, Errol was Head of Innovation at Optaros, where he provided Mobile & Social Commerce solutions for top retailers. Prior to Optaros, Errol founded, led and successfully sold an angel-backed venture delivering original social content programming via TV, web and physical entertainment venues. Previously, Errol was GM of Razorfish Boston.


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