We love Mary Meeker. She is a geek about the future, just like us. Some people complain about the quality of her slides or the scatter gun approach to her presentation, but we inhale her annual presentation of results in the KPCB’ Meeker Internet Trends Report.
The one thing we will grant the critics is that for the casual observer, at 294 slides, it’s just way too much to swallow at once for most. We’ve gone through her work a number of times and have teased out her top 30 slides about the future. So for the people that have only 10 minutes, not two hours … your welcome:
1) Global Internet Users
We are at 3.6B worldwide internet users now and the universe of humans online is slowly ticking up (although slowest growth rate in years at 7%). As much as Facebook and Google have talked about getting the next billion online, it’s going to take some work as there are some structural reasons why they haven’t joined yet after a generation of the ‘net.
2) Global Smartphone Shipments
We may have reached peak smartphone shipments, with flat performance for the first time on record. With the trend toward new interfaces (e.g. voice, hologrammic), we may not see annual shipments of phones above 1.4B units again. More than most companies, Apple may be suffering from the innovator’s dilemma of not turning off its base but coming up with a phone, that their users can rave about again.
3) Media Usage
I always look for this one in Meeker’s report and try to figure out when will we reach peak media thresholds. The answer – not yet. We all still continue to tick up our media usage per day but it’s starting to flatten. We tacked on another 20 minutes of media time this year with all of it going to mobile time spent. What did we do on our phones just 8 years ago – like nothing?!
#4 Wi-Fi Networks and The Pervasiveness of the Internet
Feeding our hunger for staying connected, there are now nearly 500MM wi-fi networks in the world or one network for every 9 internet users.
#5 The Sophistication of Payments and Fintech
Admittedly a stacked deck here, as if these numbers held true for the full population, we’d have commerce levels well above 50%. Having said that, some interesting insight on the relative popularity of how people pay for commerce and switch money around in the items #2-11.
#5 The Rise in Messaging and Dark Social
Even though we have more and more ways to connect, it is getting tougher to connect with people in these private, small group messenger forums.
#7 AI Has Caught Up to Humans
As we have anticipated, AI will have the most powerful impact on business, culture and society over the next decade as its functionality has reached reached and starts to surpass humans. So many ethical, career, geopolitical and wealth-related questions here…
#8 We’re Living in a Tech World
By 2020, tech will break through the ceiling eclipsed by the 2000 Dot.com era. Hopefully the quality of banter on tech and the financial markets on TV/internet will similarly improve.
#9 E-Commerce & the Human Factor
Most of Mary Meeker’s charts are exponential in growth, this one just keeps ticking up 1-2 percentage points every year. The key barrier to stratospheric e-commerce growth – humans. Once we collectively get more comfortable with purchasing online (e.g. trust, returns, witness of delivery, servicing returns), there may come a tipping point … and then offline retail will really be in trouble.
#10 The Me Store and Online Merchants
Perhaps I chose this chart because of Shopify being a genuine homegrown Canadian success. At close to a million merchants, the larger callout would be the craving for people to run their own businesses or at least some side-hustle thing.
#11 The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer Brands
It’s a great time to be an online marketer with the incursion of these fully digital brands traipsing on centuries-old traditional brands in a fraction of the time. Think Dollar Shave Club, Bonobos, Casper and Warby Parker.
#12 Get Your Subscription Now
Success formula for a web-based business. Step one – find an under serviced need or aggravating itch. Step two – put it into a subscription business. Poof – success.
#13 The Rise in Utility
As evidenced by our Customer Zeitgeist’s identification of the impact age and the need for users to get more out of the internet, 3 of the top 5 category of apps online are focused on personal productivity and utility (shopping, business/fiannce and personal productivity) and having mobile help customers do something vs. escape from something.
#14 Time Spent in Media vs. Dollars Spent There
Finally, after all these years, digital spending seems to have finally caught up with digital time spent. We spend 47% of our time in digital platforms and 46% of the advertising dollars get spent there. If there is anybody that should be crying foul now, it may be radio.
#15 Personal Debt, Savings and Spending
The oh-oh chart for North Americans. Just how long can we keep riding our credit card is the question.
The Economic Noose and Saviors
For economists and government policy makers everywhere, these charts should entice:
- housing – how affordable is the need for everybody to own their own home, and do they all need to be 1,800ft+++?
- pensions/insurance – how do we pay for our old age?
- health care – how does this not become a runaway train?
You can thank the intervention of technology for not having to pay prorportionately as much for food, entertainment and apparel anymore.
#16 The Technology Disruption Enablers
I feel bad for the visionaries of the 1960s and 70s who envisioned all of our current breakthroughs but couldn’t build it at the time due to technical limitations. Courtesy Moore’s Law and the size of processors, our computing power and storage capacity have become comically more powerful and cheaper. It’s crazy to think how much 1GB cost even 5 years ago vs. its costs now.
#17 The Freelance Economy – Large & Growing
Currently, there are 6MM doing on-demand jobs in North America and it shows no signs of slowing.
#18 Cloud Computing and Mobile – The Growth Generators of the Last Decade
Who knew that Amazon and Apple would get so wealthy based on AWS and the App store back in 2005? Really, c’mon now you are just lieing.
AI – The Biggest Growth Generator of the Next Decade
See the early investment signs and some big-time optimism and measured caution by Google’s CEO Sundar Pinchal.
#19 Data Privacy – The Issue of Our Times
Even though 79% of Americans say they would offer up their data for clear personal benefit, they’re currently getting a lot more activist in what they don’t want to share.
#20 The Changing Guard of Internet Leaders
Two big a-has – a) the valuation of these top 20 companies has grown fourfold in just five years and b) in 2013, there were two Chinese companies on the top 20 list, now there are 9 (and I bet most of you outside of China have never heard of them, never mind not being able to pronounce them).
#21 Cultural Differences in Sharing
Much more faith in the internet from China, and considerably less from my fellow Canadians and Japanese.
#22) Life Long Learning and It’s All Tech
33MM lifelong learners on Coursera are steeped in trying to understand the future of the world. What will this mean to traditional education institutions?
#23) Freelancers Keeping Up, Corporate Staff Falling Behind
Not too sure if this is a chicken or egg argument, but a message to corporate personnel – don’t just rely on a comfy job and pay cheque safety net to insulate you from training and self-development for the new world.
#24) China has it’s Own Middle Class Thank You Very Much
In 15 years, the domestic economy of China has doubled in importance. The biggest consumption driver in the world is China’s middle class and they have grown an increasing appetite for their domestic brands vs. international ones.
#25) China – the World’s E-Commerce Leader
In a span of decade, China has gone from nowhere to becoming the world’s leading e-commerce nation based on appetite for technology, mobile fluency, concentration of population and logistical sophistication of its top e-commerce companies. Throw in Korea in 2nd place and the e-commerce world is title eastward.
#26 Slack and The Powers of Collaboration and Consumer-Grade Enterprise Software
Whereas HR, CTOs and CEOs would go crazy trying to get more than 10% regular employee participation on the intranet years ago, Slack now gets 34% daily usage. So cleverly built, No more meetings, no more email…could this be true?
#27 Zoom and The Power of Video Collaboration
Video was supposed to usher in the promise of remote work and feeling like you were actually in the office with people even though not physically there. Maybe it’s happening now and we don’t need characters like George Clooney’s Up in the Air Ryan Bingham.
#28 U.S. Debt to GDP
Americans still want to live in the consumption world of the ’50s and ’60s, it’s just that they can’t afford it anymore. It’s really not the military that’s driving the growth, it’s entitlements (and principally medicare and medicaid). Watch out if interest rates and the cost to service this debt starts going up and up. And limit your expectations on what politicians promise and can actually afford to do.
#29 We Live in An Interconnected World
Even though you may be an oil patch worker in Calgary or a farmer in Iowa, when a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the planet, you may be affected. An instructive tale that can be learned from recent software and steel trade issues.
#30 Drive for Personalization
One of the largest customer needs that will need to be factored into your manufacturing, services, financing, product development, innovation, sales and marketing is “personalization”. We surfaced this as one of the biggest customer-facing themes of our Customer Zeitgeist report and it has surfaced again here in the Meeker report. Look at the crazy jumps in Google searches for “for me”, “should I” and “near me” and the need will come into scope.