Highly respected Web and technology analyst Mary Meeker has released her end of year 2012 report on Internet trends and the summary is that mobile and tablets are driving new levels of connectivity, particularly in emerging markets.

Meeker, a partner with VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, estimates that the number of Internet users worldwide has grown by 8 percent this year to hit 2.4 billion. China tops the list with 538 million users, Iran is the biggest grower (up 205 percent) while the US grew 3 percent to hit 244 million Web users, that’s 78 percent of the total population.

The report is a must read for the industry and, as it is more than 80 pages long, we’ve picked out the most pertinent trends and points. You can read the full deck embedded at the bottom of this post.

Mobile is driving new Internet access, but only scratching the surface

Mobile is, as you’d expect, the key focus and the number of global smartphone users rose 42 percent this year, Meeker estimates, to hit 1.1 billion. China is again top — 270 million smartphone users, and 50 percent growth — with the US second on 172 million smartphones (and 50 percent annual growth).

Meeker points out that this is only the beginning since smartphones are just 24 percent of the total mobile population in China — as opposed to 48 percent in the US. In India, that proportion is as low as just 4 percent, suggesting that its current total of smartphone users — 44 million — will continue to grow massively.

mm2 520x383 Mary Meeker 2012 highlights: Mobile Web charges on   Apple dominates US, Android winning global

Apple’s mobile and tablets driving US Web, Android makes global moves

Back in the US, Meeker says that the iPhone and iPad are revolutionising the Web, in the same way that the iPod changed the global music industry.

The report estimates that the iPad is scaling at nearly six times the speed of the iPhone, which itself grew faster than the iPod. However, globally, it is Android that is making all the big moves.

mm41 520x383 Mary Meeker 2012 highlights: Mobile Web charges on   Apple dominates US, Android winning global

There’s plenty of room for Android, iOS and other devices to move into since there are an estimated 5 billion global mobile users, of which just one billion are smartphones.

Already, that promise is making a difference in some markets. Meeker highlights the fact that mobile Web usage has overtaken PC-based fixed-line Internet usage in India — as we reported in September — and she points out that this is a sign of things to come in other markets, where mobile is bringing new levels of connectivity to people, many of whom have never used, or even owned, a PC.

Globally, 13 percent of Internet traffic is estimated to be from a mobile device — up from sub-10 percent last year and just 4 percent in 2010 — and we can expect it to continue to accelerate in response to soaring smartphone and tablet ownership.

mm5 520x387 Mary Meeker 2012 highlights: Mobile Web charges on   Apple dominates US, Android winning global

The increase on mobile does, of course, bring with it monetization opportunities and — on slide 17 — Meeker estimates that the mobile app industry has made some $9 billion in revenue this year – up from $0.7 billion for years ago, and $15 billion last year. More generally, the rise of mobile and its retail potential is illustrated by the fact that almost one quarter (24 percent) of ‘Black Friday’ Internet shopping traffic came from a mobile or tablet device.
Here’s the full deck for your perusal.

Image via ANDREAS SOLARO/Getty Images