Every year the tech analyst Mary Meeker produces a state-of-the-internet report which has become a definitive overview for anyone interested in digital technology.
She released this year’s report yesterday (you can find reports stretching back to 2001 here). It’s 197 slides of fascinating charts, statistics, insights and pithy one-line encapsulations of what’s happening in tech right now.
It’s impossible to summarise 197 slides accurately, but here are a few things we learnt that we think are worth repeating…
- The internet’s impact has been mostly felt by consumers so far – lots of other sectors are yet to be affected
It bears repeating: we are still at Day One of the internet. Its effects have been notable for us an ordinary citizens, but for many areas of life, especially education, healthcare and government, it’s just beginning. The potential for change and upheaval is huge.
- “Vertical viewing” is taking off
The improvement in smartphone technology and the roll-out of 4G has allowed video on mobile to rapidly take off. Meeker points out that “vertical viewing” (ie, watching video on phones and tablets) is now 29% of all screen time in the US. And on Facebook video viewing has quadrupled in the last six months…
- Enterprise software entrepreneurs are inspired by pain points, not passions
Consumer software entrepreneurs – like Mark Zuckerberg or Evan Spiegel – are typically driven by a personal passion. Meeker points out that, in contrast, enterprise software entrepreneurs (like Stewart Butterfield or Parker Conrad) are trying to solve problems in the ways things were traditionally done in the workplace. In other words, they’re pursuing pain points and reimagining the way we work. It’s a different approach but no less lucrative. And if you’re not convinced, she backs this up with 14 examples…
- Drones are surprisingly small given the hype, but they are at an inflection point
Meeker’s estimates suggest there are well under 10m consumer drones in the world right now. That feels small given how much hype and how many scare stories they’re attracting. But the drone market – both consumer and commercial – is at an inflection point, with shipments increasing at significantly over 100% year on year.
- Tech’s impact on the world of work will be profound and is only just beginning
Meeker dedicates almost 60 slides to technology’s impact on the changing world of work. In her view, tech has changed how people work (more freelancing, flexible hours, globalised), how people buy (on demand, anywhere), and how the system needs to be regulated (updating 20th century laws for the 21st century). And as the debate rumbles on about robots taking our jobs, she gets to the nub of the issue: can job creation keep pace with job destruction?
- The “just in time” economy is mostly (for now) travel and food
The simple equation of “mobiles + sensors + humans” has created what Meeker calls the “just in time” economy. Looking at companies that fit into the segment, at the moment it’s broadly food and travel. How long before it stretches into other areas?
- Longform content could be coming to social networks near you soon
Many observers have concluded that Western social media brands like Facebook and Snapchat are evolving into the kind of all-consuming platforms popular in China, like WeChat, in which messaging, content, payments are other services are all contained within one app. If that’s the case, we might want to pay attention to what WeChat is doing now. So take a look at this: 200m views in three days for a 103min documentary distributed through WeChat. Facebook is already hosting whole news articles within its app – could whole TV shows or whole movies be next?