Meeker’s Internet Trends: “Re-imagining nearly everything”

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The annual presentation of internet trends by long-time influential technology analyst and commentator Mary Meeker has become a kind of a “state of the web nation”, and her latest was given this week at the D10 conference.

Many people, myself includes, take her dense slide decks of stats and insights as a chance to reflect and take stock on how the web is changing.

Today was the second time Mary had given this presentation as part of legendary VCs Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers (KPCB). The format changed a little from her days at Morgan Stanley, with more focus on a insights and discussion of what the stats and apparent trends might mean.

In the post below, I’ve filleted the presentation slides and highlighted some strong insights that caught our attention in the Brilliant Noise office (the slides can be seen in full on Scribd or at the foot of this post).

But first, some thoughts on the most interesting theme – I think – that was explored.

Re-imagining nearly everything

The theme/trend that Mary examined in depth was the “re-Imagination of nearly everything”.

She seems to be saying that web is entering a new phase of disrupting, re-making both itself and many things in the world.

This is part of what we describe at Brilliant Noise as “the everywhere web“: the spread of the web through the world, into objects, into activities, industries, everything. As Kevin Kelly put it back in 2007, as the web expands it touches new things – everything it touches it disrupts and then absorbs.

We keep thinking it is done with us, but it isn’t. This is the long revolution and it will continue for many years, probably decades to come. I quote Marc Andreesen so much on this it is almost a mantra: we only have a clear idea of what will happen with the web about six months out. It is pure software, it can be constantly re-cast, re-structured, it is a force of broiling disruption that – just when you think you understand the rules – disrupts itself.

We are re-imagining everything.

What a great insight. A great reminder to us all.

Meeker says the great Re-Imagination’s next phase will be “powered by new devices + connectivity + UI + beauty”.

She cites three landmarks of the First Generation of Re-Imagination:

  1. After 125 years of use, landlines surpassed by mobiles in 2002
  2. After 244 years Encyclopaedia Britannica goes out of print in 2012
  3. After 305 years, newspaper ad revenue was surpassed by Internet in 2010 [the most surprising thing now, is how much ad revenue still goes on print media – 25%, while 7% of our time/attention is spent there.

And now, the re-imagination of all sorts of things is taking place. She talks through activities including note-taking, life stories, photography, drawing, note taking, information flows, diaries, magazines, books, music, sound, video, monetisation of talent and manufacturing.

Intriguingly, she also asks what next? The place to look is the “white space” of consumer internet – things the web hasn’t yet disrupted fully. She talks about our ears (think Siri and similar services), our bodies, the time we spend in cars, the time we spend watching TV as spaces the web will help us re-imagine next.

It feels like a challenge to all of us: what about our lives, our business, our lives can we re-imagine with the web?

The presentation ends with two portentous insights linking back to this “re-imagining” theme:

  1. “Magnitude of Upcoming Change Will be Stunning – We are Still in Spring Training”
  2. With an illustration of a Gartner hype-cycle-like graphic, Meeker notes the “cycle of tech disruption is materially faster and broader than prior cycles”.

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Absolutely fascinating and inspiring stuff. If there’s one message for all of us it is this: don’t you dare stand still…

Let’s also take a look at some of the other highlights…

The amazing market-creating iPad

The growth in sales of the iPad is vividly illustrated in this graph. It helps reinforce the importance of trends like “lean back 2.0” identified by The Economist, which has also become the title of its excellent new blog on digital publishing (more people reading more long-form content on tablets).

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Smartphones have a long way to grow…

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Also interesting to note: India’s mobile internet traffic overtook that from desktop internet use in May, 2012.

Mobile isn’t an advertising medium

It is clear that the key element of the web’s evolution that is currently disrupting the web itself is mobile. This isn’t a surprise – we’ve all been expecting it and incorrectly predicting this for years, but now it is finally happening. But just because the prophecy is coming true doesn’t mean we understand it, or how it will play out.

One big issue is that it is very unclear how media companies will make money and if or how advertising will work:

  • CPM (how much it costs to reach 1,000 people with an ad) for mobile in the US is $0.75, $3.50 in desktop internet
  • Meeker believes mobile monetisation (advertising and otherwise) will happen fatser than it did with the web. The means are already there and sophisticated advertisers and customers also, she says.
  • The amount of money online services make from users (ARPU or Average Revenue Per User) is much lower in mobile for services like Pandora and Zynga… this is one of the thorns in the side of post-IPO Facebook right now, of course…
  • Even Google suffers in mobile: one of Meeker’s slides is headed “Mobile Growth Helping Boost Clicks but Reducing Cost per Click thus Constraining Revenue Growth”

Wow – look at those e-readers go…

The last three years have of course seen the beginning of the re-imagining of what books, publishers and reading are…

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KPCB Internet Trends 2012

: : As an aside, it is also interested to see how Scribd has evolved. Typically I share presentations on SlideShare, but I really like the vertical, column format here – makes browsing feel smoother than constantly clicking and looks more professional.