Last week, I summarized what I thought were the relevant points from Mary Meeker’s 2015 analysis of Internet Trends, which also made me want to go back and see how prescient her 2014 analysis turned out to be.
With any analyst, it is important to realize nobody can predict the future. If they could, they would be billionaires as they would themselves only invest in the next Apples and Facebooks, not the next Netscapes and MySpaces.
Below are some key trends she predicted last year and my take on how they have been applicable:
- Internet usage is growing fastest in markets that are difficult to monetize. India remains a key focus for Meeker in her 2015 analysis but she is now most interested in China and India, rather than other emerging markets (Nigeria and Indonesia) while companies have shown an ability to monetize China (sometimes dwarfing their western competitors).
- Smartphone growth is following the same pattern as Internet growth. That growth has continued.
- Tablets are seeing great growth. I would say this was Meeker’s biggest miss, as she missed the growth of “phablets,” which both Apple and Samsung saw.
- Mobile becomes an increasingly dominant form of web usage. Meeker was completely on target.
- US operating systems dominate mobile phones worldwide. I would put this one as a maybe. They do right now but Xiaomi and other very formidable Chinese competitors are redefining mobile operating systems (though still based on Android, for the time being).
- Mobile ad spend still has tremendous upside. This continues to be a theme for Meeker and I agree with her underlying logic.
- App revenue is still the strongest mobile revenue source. Although not a theme this year, it continues to be true.
- Cyber threats are intensifying. True, as the hack of the US government last week showed.
- Tech venture financing is still depressed. I have not seen the latest data but seems to be rebounding with some companies getting great valuations.
- Education may be at an inflection point. We have not seen the inflection point yet but the fundamentals remain that this industry will change dramatically.
- Healthcare is another sector that may be at an inflection point. Like education, we have not yet seen the big changes here but it seems inevitable.
- Messaging is an exciting space. If anything, this has become a more exciting space with bigger opportunities.
- Image and video sharing rising quickly. Continues to grow, though video seems to have eclipsed photo sharing.
- The dominance of apps is resulting in unbundling of the Internet. Not a theme in 2015, this trend largely continues.
- Apps are re-imagining activities and businesses. Not as many apps have disrupted traditional businesses in the past 12 months but probably because the low hanging fruit was already disrupted.
- Biggest re-imagining will be people with mobile devices and sensors uploading troves of findable and shareable data. I would classify this as a miss by Meeker, as this trend has not had a huge impact.
- Sensor use rising rapidly. Again, this has not continued into 2015 and Meeker does not focus on it in her 2015 report.
- Computing costs dropping dramatically. Probably a trend since 1985, enough said.
- Compelling user interfaces are part of why many business are being re-imagined. Although I agree with her analysis, it was not a key part of the 2015 landscape.
- Data mining and analytic tools that mine and organize data are growing rapidly. She does not discuss this in 2015 but possibly because it has become such an integral part of the business ecosystem it is no longer worth mentioning as a trend.
- Apps are replacing television channels. Still happening but television has been incredibly resilient, though with Showtime following HBO this should continue as a long-term trend.
- Social television boosts the impact of ads. We really have not seen this phenomenon at all.
When looking back at her analysis from 2014, I was personally surprised about how accurate her predictions were. While some are still playing out, her analysis proves very valuable in understanding how technology is evolving (and it is a heck of a lot better than my predictions).