Accessing the internet with a smartphone or tablet still feels like a novelty to some people, but the tech world is already moving forward on the next wave of innovation networked devices, largely focused on freeing up users' hands. A new technology cycle characterized by "wearables, drivables, flyables and scannables" is coming on earlier than expected and already showing signs of growth, internet analyst Mary Meeker says in the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers 2013 Internet Trends report.
In the report, which was published yesterday, Meeker said the average smartphone user checks his or her device 150 times per day, a task that wearable tech can help users avoid. While Google Glass has been called a geeky novelty by some, Meeker believes hands free technology has staying power. In addition to Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung are all said to be developing wearable tech devices.
Networked, sensor-enabled, wearable devices such as a watch, bracelet or pair of glasses have the potential to allow users to make calls, send a message, use GPS or simply check the time without having to put down what they're doing. These changes can create new opportunities for businesses to integrate their message into users' daily lives, and challenge companies to develop inventive ways to get customers' attention as they spend more time using voice and sensor controls and less time staring at a screen.
Wearable tech wasn't the only thing on Meeker's radar. Here are some other notable observations from the report:
Mobile traffic is growing fast. In just the past year the number of users who rely on mobile devices to get online increased by 30 percent to more than 1.5 billion subscribers worldwide. Those customers account for 15 percent of all internet traffic and create significant opportunities for advertisers, the report says. In China and South Korea, for instance, internet traffic from mobile devices has already surpassed traffic from PCs.
Sharing is infectious and addictive. Internet users are sharing information in the form of photos and videos, and increasingly, sound and data -- at exponential rates. This year, users have already uploaded almost 550 million photos to services like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat compared to just about 350 million for all of 2012. Users upload an average of 100 hours of video to YouTube and 11 hours of audio to SoundCloud every minute.
Americans aren't the biggest over-sharers online. When it comes to sharing every detail about one's work and life online, Americans don't even crack the top 10, the report says. When asked if they share "everything" or "most things" online, only 15 percent of people in the U.S. indicated yes. In contrast, more than 60 percent of Saudi Arabians answered yes followed by Indians and Indonesians, about half of whom also answered yes.
If Meeker's data makes one thing clear it's that the internet offers a smorgasbord of opportunities to capitalize on in well-established and emerging markets that can shape the way share and connect well into the next decade.