by Angela Catterns

This week on the long and winding election road, The Prime Minister went to River City Labs - a not for profit Brisbane co-working community (not sure what that is) for tech startups and early stage mobile ventures. He and Wyatt Roy announced a further $15 million to support new ventures in this sector.

Their visit coincided with the release of the Mary Meeker 2016 Internet Trends Report.

Mary Meeker is a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, whose primary work is on the Internet and new technologies. Her annual report is regarded as the fastest way to learn everything that’s going on in tech right now. And how it will evolve in the future.

Here are some of her key findings:

  • There are currently 3 billion users on the net - 42% of the world’s population - but the internet adoption rate has flat-lined.
  • Fewer people are buying Smartphones. Android has a growing market share, but their average selling price is dropping.
  • Video viewership is exploding, with visual apps like Snapchat and Facebook Live showing the way, instead of text-heavy ones like LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Messaging is evolving from simple text communication to become our new home screen with options for vivid self-expression and commerce.
  • Advertisers still spend way too much on radio, TV and print, and not enough on the web. Especially mobile. Businesses that use mobile could now get a big head-start.

And here are some of her predictions:

  • The rise and rise of voice interface with the computer (instead of using a keyboard) because it’s fast, easy, personalised, hands-free, and cheap. Google is now seeing 20% of searches by voice alone.
  • The USA could become the home of the auto industry again, thanks to innovation by Tesla and Google. Car ownership will wane as its high costs and inefficiency give way to ride-sharing.
  • China’s internet trends look better than those of the US, while internet giants around the world continue to grow more powerful.
  • Non-tech companies are buying tech companies instead of building their way into digital.

Mary’s report makes us realise the future is almost upon us. It also makes me wonder why we continue down the path of building massive new freeways and why we have to convince ourselves we’re better off with a less than top-of-the-range NBN.

There was also some more interesting mobile research released recently by market research company Neilsen.

They found with more than a million apps to buy from the app store, we consumers use only about 26 or 27 of these per month.

And the majority of our time – 84% of it – is spent using just 5 apps we’ve installed from the App Store.

So there appears to be an upper-limit to how many apps we actually engage with each month.

This is all interesting news for young companies trying to establish a foothold in the tech sector. These are the companies most likely to benefit from the PM’s new ‘Incubation Support Program’.

Today, for most of us, mobile has emerged as a way of life. As it continues to grow in importance, so have consumers’ expectations for it.

Neilsen says businesses haven’t innovated at a fast enough rate and they believe there’s a bit of a mobile-engagement crisis.

Despite accepted wisdom, usage by older people is still quite significant. Those aged 55+ spend more than 21 hours across 22 apps per month. This trend is having an impact outside of the app universe as well, because apps have begun stealing away the time we would have spent on other leisure activities, like reading books, going to the movies, or watching TV.

On my phone, I just counted 80 apps. Apart from messages, mail and internet browser apps, the so-called ‘native apps’, I reckon I’ve used just a handful in the past month.

I love the iPhone wallet, where you can have your boarding pass stored and it’s scanned on the way into the plane. My other favourite is WeatherAU, which tells you the forecast complete with radar and tides.

But seriously, what was I thinking when I installed 'Don't Sweat', the meditation app? Or 'What Knot?!'