The missing half of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends presentation

February 11, 2011 § 3 Comments

Mary Meeker, formerly with Morgan Stanley, and now a partner at Kleiner Perkins, enjoys heavy praise each time she puts out one of her “state of the digital economy” Powerpoint decks.  I’m not quite ready to jump on that bandwagon.  Don’t get me wrong … I love having access to all that rich information in one, convenient place.  But these presentations (often 50+ pages) are heavy on charts that illustrate the past, and light on analysis that anticipates the future.   In her latest deck, you have to wade through 22 slides before arriving at one with original content (from KP’s portfolio companies) — all the prior slides, and most of those that follow, regurgitate data from 3rd party sources.

Mary Meeker, Internet trends (February, 2011)

Ms. Meeker compiles tons of interesting data to tell an articulate story of what’s already happening out there, but what I’d really like to see from her and her obviously talented team, are the implications.  How will these trends, such as the rapid rise in smartphone penetration, impact our economy, how we do business, or how we function in our daily lives?  Based on the trends she reports, here are some of the questions that need answering:

  • Will closed systems (like Apple’s) and open systems (like Google/Android’s and Microsoft’s) continue to co-exist, or will Apple eventually fall, like it did in the first PC era?
  • Are the people who buy iOS devices vs. Android vs. Windows Phone really that different?  And what does this mean for development and marketing strategies?
  • Will yesterday’s deal between Microsoft and Nokia be enough to save either company’s mobile business?
  • Will there be a shift in focus from app quantity to app quality?  In a market with 100s of thousands of choices (and counting), how will new publishers and developers break in?  Will the discouraging odds of getting noticed drive would-be app developers to other platforms?
  • Will the emerging dominance of mobile computing cause new businesses and business models to optimize first for mobile (rather than first for PC, which is typical now)?  What are these businesses likely to be?
  • How can domestic companies compete with international competitors, particularly in markets with greater long term upside than in the U.S. (Brazil, China, India)?
  • Is Facebook becoming like AIG … getting too big and central to fail?
  • Is the social aspect of social networking just a fad?  Will the focus of social platforms be entirely different 5 to 10 years from now, i.e., a bigger, broader purpose?
  • Is the longevity of today’s stars such as Groupon and Zynga determined mainly by their latest innovations, or have they created sustainable, defensible models worthy of continued investment?  Will these companies become platforms on which entire ecosystems can be built, creating opportunities for new businesses and consumer benefit?
  • What will be the next significant consumer or B2B behaviors to be disintermediated by mobile?
  • Will mobile users tolerate mobile advertising, and does it depend on format?  Will mobile advertising be effective?  If the answer to either of these questions is “no”, what business models will justify additional investment?
  • Are there any limits to what people will purchase on a mobile device (mcommerce)?

Of course there are countless other questions one could ask.  Now that Meeker has broadened her scope from market analyst to business builder, I hope she will see fit to take her presentations to the next level.  But Mary, if you’re listening, can you try to keep it under 60 or 70 pages? ;-)

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§ 3 Responses to The missing half of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends presentation

  • I also find Meeker’s presentations useful because many (although thankfully not all) people make decisions based on a rearview mirror look at the world. While past performance doesn’t predict future performance, it can have an outsized impact on the likelihood of closing a deal in the future. A deck of observations about the past can be helpful in that regard.

    By not providing a lot of predictions, she can avoid being exposed as a charlatan at some point in the future. Smart move on her part.

    Since you got me thinking, here’s a few thoughts on the 12 questions. You can expose me as a charlatan when you best see fit.

    1. I think “open” vs “closed” isn’t the right way to look at it. Apple’s system allows me to purchase .mp3 files quite easily from Amazon and incorporate into iTunes. Further, as the Apple .acc files no longer include DRM, they can be played elsewhere. So, their system, like Microsoft’s or Google’s is a little bit of both. I believe the right question is “who will make the most compelling solutions for the end user?” I think it will depend over time. Right now, Apple seems to have the upper hand, but that will change.

    2. I haven’t looked at the demo and psychographics. I suspect there’s a difference.

    3. Unless they provide a better end-user experience, no.

    4. Quality always wins in the end. Getting noticed in the various app stores is no different than getting noticed among the thousands of SKUs in grocery stores. What the app wars might mean is that, except for highly targeted apps, the little guys get crowded out in favor of the providers that have the resources for app store equivalents of MDF, detailing, etc.

    5. Yes.

    6. Haven’t thought this through yet.

    7. No. Humans moved their interactions from the souk to the mills of the industrial revolution to the gin joints and coffee houses to the water cooler to email to the web, all without major AIG-like disruptions to our social networks. When Facebook fades, something better will take its place and we’ll all be fine, and better for the next thing. Except those buying into Facebook at current valuations, but fools and their money….

    8. No (see #7). On the second part of your question, partly.

    9. Not going out on much of limb here, but there is no sustainable business model to Groupon. It’s a customer acquisition platform that’s easily replicated and one that doesn’t scale–see Groupon’s hiring of thousands of salespeople to entice small businesses to participate. Groupon and competitors will continue to exist, but as a part of the overall marketing mix.

    10. Disintermediated? Tossed away my old MBA textbooks a while back.

    11. For this question, remove the word “mobile” and the answers are yes and yes.

    12. Think of all things we never thought we’d buy on the Internet. (Shoes? How in the heck can you build a profitable business involving a fashion item that fits irregularly in the best of cases? Etc.) With near field communications chips in our hands at all times, we’ll be able to buy more, more frequently and economically for smaller amounts of money.

    Thanks again the the lunchtime think session!

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