Social Web Impact and the Future of the Internet
How social web will rule in the future
In a dense, 87-page report, Morgan Stanley analysts have charted the most important online trends and predicted the future of the Internet. In addition to forecasting more online shopping and showing the geographical distribution of Internet users, the study also shows a dramatic shift toward mobile web use.
Including devices such as the Kindle, the iPhone and other smartphones, web-enabled tablets, GPS systems, video games and wireless home appliances, the growth of the mobile web has been exponential — and we’re still just at the beginning of this cycle. Morgan Stanley’s analysts believe that, based on the current rate of change and adoption, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015.
The mobile wealth creation/destruction cycle is in its earliest stages. The proliferation of better devices and the availability of better data coverage are two trends driving growth; having better services and smaller, cheaper devices has led to a huge explosion in mobile technology that far outpaces the growth of any other computing cycle.
And speaking of coverage, global 3G penetration is expected to hit 21% this year. In Japan, where the U.S. looks to find its mobile roadmap for the future, 96% of mobile subscribers already have 3G coverage. In Western Europe, the penetration is around 54%, just slightly above 46% in the U.S. In developing and/or economically depressed areas, including the Middle East, Africa, parts of Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, 3G penetration is still in the single digits. Morgan Stanley identifies 3G access as a key point in the success of the mobile web.
Finally, mobile e-commerce is ramping up faster than online e-commerce, now making up 4% of total retail sales. In certain categories, such as computers, consumer electronics, music, movies, tickets, video games and books, online sales account for between 45% and 20% of the total retail market. Japan’s Rakuten shows how the mobile share of e-commerce is growing as well, from 10% of e-commerce in 2006 to nearly 20% now.
Notes on the Social Web
Social network use has already eclipsed e-mail use. People started spending more time on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace back in 2007; in 2009, there were more users on social networks than users of e-mail.
In the past three years, two sites have gained a huge amount of mindshare around the world. The number of minutes spent online from a global audience was dominated by Yahoo and MSN in 2006. Today, Facebook is the website that gets by far the most attention, minute for minute, with YouTube holding a steady second position.
Other Stats of Interest
- 48% of all Internet users come from just five countries (Brazil, Russia, China, India and the U.S.).
- Video accounts for 69% of mobile data traffic.
- Facebook is the single largest repository for user-generated content such as pics, videos, links and comments.
- Apple and Android platforms are gaining in the mobile OS market, while Windows Mobile, RIM and Palm decline.
- More and more, we are expecting to have access to our “stuff,” i.e. music, documents and applications, in the cloud.
- The overlap between mobile users and social web users continues to grow; more and more users are accessing the social web from a mobile device.
- If Skype were a telecommunications carrier, it would be the largest carrier in the world, with 521 million registered users.
- Games are bigger than any other app category — both for the social web and for mobile devices.
- Real-time technology and location-based services are expected to drive mobile retail.
- Online ad sales are growing, but virtual goods, premium content and other models are big business, especially for the mobile web.
- The average iPhone user only spends 45% of his on-device time making voice calls.
Stay tuned for more social web impact inside our latest news blog.