Mary Meeker: Other than the economy, things look pretty good

In her trademark style, venture capitalist Mary Meeker gave her read on the technology landscape and how it's interacting with the global economy.

Mary Meeker (left) talks with John Battelle at the 2011 Web 2.0 Summit.
Mary Meeker (left) talks with John Battelle at the 2011 Web 2.0 Summit. James Martin/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--Mary Meeker, a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, gave one of her typical, blisteringly fast, data-driven talks at the Web 2.0 Summit here.

The slides she used are online on the KP site. I recommend giving them a read.

Some key points: Meeker kicks off by talking about globality. While the top four tech companies are American, there are several up-and-comers, especially from China. And 81 percent of Internet users are outside the U.S. Also, social-network use (aka the "new Internet," according to Marc Benioff) in the U.S.--when you look at time spent on social nets per user--is actually quite low. Israel and Argentina top the chart.

Twenty-four percent of trade is cross-geography, she said, compared to 10 percent in 1960s.

We are living through two technological breakouts, the growth of the Internet, and the mobile Internet, which Meeker sees as different. Meeker says it's a "special time," as both these new technologies became, or are becoming, pervasive during recessions.

Meeker also reinforced, to a chorus of gasps from the audience, how much more quickly the Android market is growing (based on smartphone shipments) than the iPhone market.

This slide, which shows Android vs. iOS adoption, was one that Mary Meeker presented at the Web 2.0 Summit today.
This slide, which shows Android vs. iOS adoption, was one that Mary Meeker presented at the Web 2.0 Summit today. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

As far as technology products, "Steve [Jobs'] design aesthetic was second to none," Meeker said. The way we interact with technology is radically new, and much more personal. "The next big things are the things on the side of your head. Headsets are getting better by the quarter." She believes that voice input is "the new QWERTY."

The Net is doing great things to upset the shopping cart. Mobile shopping and online commerce is changing the dynamics of consumer commerce. "I go to One Kings Lane about 5 minutes every morning," she says. "Transparency and mobile are making a huge difference." Meeker is also bullish on Web advertising.

Connecting some of the themes, Meeker metaphorically waved the American flag when she talked about how, with smartphones, we've won back the mobile industry from non-U.S. companies. Witness the importance of Apple and Google in this new, critically important new platform.

The mega-trend of the 21st century is that people are being empowered by mobile devices. Eighty-five percent of the world's population has mobile coverage, she said. Only 80 percent is on an electrical grid.

The social network, Meeker said, may be making the world, "safer than ever." She said, "Authentic identity will be one of big topics in next 10 years."

But the economics we're dealing with are uncertain and volatile. Meeker showed disturbing slides on the state of the U.S. (and global) economy. Sacrifice is needed, she says. "It's often darkest before dawn."

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