2011 Internet Trends

2011 Internet Trends

The recent internet trends report, from former Wall Street analyst and current venture capitalist Mary Meeker, highlights the shifts driving the Internet's evolution.

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 20 october 2011

Mary Meeker (former Wall Street analyst turned venture capitalist at KPCB) has released her well-recognized Internet Trends 2011 report. Presented at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco this week, the report–which is publicly available –captured 11 key trends based on various points of analysis. Per usual, we are commenting on some of what we perceive to be the most relevant (to our audience), actionable, and sometimes not entirely obvious insights below:

      • “‘Record’ is the new QWERTY”: The evolution of the triggers associated with user interface have evolved from text-entry to graphical representations, to touch-based, and now to sound/audio and motion based. We need only look at the iPhone (and at the Wii) to demonstrate this transition. While Siri’s voice-triggered utility is currently only an iPhone 4s feature, this is expected to propagate quickly. And with platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify disrupting the sound creation and sharing space, online audio appears to be a source of invention and innovation that may soon render the keyboard unnecessary (for several tasks).
      • The business-side of content creation (specifically, news publishing) is a cluster: No surprise here. The evolution of the content publishing paradigm from one centered around creation to one driven by aggregation may have benefited people — we can now generally access most content for free — but it has left most businesses and creators (namely, news media and their writers) absolutely confused as to how they will be able to make money. There is a lack of clear, profitable business models for (news) content creation directed at the general population. Is the answer to specialize and target a niche audience with high-quality content? To rely on content farms and editorially-light content for the bulk of content, and to put up paywalls for the more valuable, differentiated points of view? Does the New York Times have it right, or does the Wall Street Journal? Clearly, this is currently a rhetorical question (and one that Meeker dedicated but a single slide to).
      • For the first time in decades, the US is a (quantifiable) market share leader in technology: Thanks to Android, iPhone and Windows-based smartphones, the US has captured over 60% market share of the mobile operating system segment (vs. 5% just five years ago). Can this accomplishment (congrats, US) trickle and translate into other segments and areas of innovation within the technology sector? To note, the design and manufacturing of most of the hardware that carries said operating systems (with the exception of the design of the iPhone) continues to occur overseas. We wonder: can we maintain this lead when much of the actual execution occurs overseas? Is our knowledge and idea-driven economy creating an unsustainable separation between ideation and execution (in terms of geography) that could hamper innovation – or will this prove to be the best approach? To be clear, this is a question without an answer – but it’s worth the conversation.
      • The authenticity, singularity, or multi-dimensionality of our (digital) identities: Twitter allows multiple personas/identities from a single individual, while Google+ and Facebook require that we ‘fess up and authenticate a a real, full name and persona (whether we’re presenting ourselves completely or discreetly).  While Meeker concludes that the conversation has multiple angles and implications–most of which are good–we found 4chan’s Chris Poole’s point-of-view on the identity discussion refreshingly accurate. Poole believes “It’s not ‘who you share with,’ it’s ‘who you share as’…Identity is prismatic.”
      • The empowerment of people via connected, mobile devices: Meeker refers to this as the Mega-Trend of the 21st Century. We need only look at Egypt, Syria and the Japan earthquake to see this shift in effect at a revolutionary or crisis-driven dimension. At a more mundane perspective, there’s the fact that over 200 million farmers in India receive government payments and subsidies via mobile device, and the fact that simple, SMS-based technology is empowering people in war-torn, poorer areas of Africa and the Middle East to accept payments, conduct business and even inform each other of traffic conditions and potentially hazardous situations before they occur. Globally, we’re more informed and connected by our mobile devices–whether they be smartphones or more basic feature-phones–than what we’ve been without them.

wo other points that Meeker places particular emphasis on are the highly global nature of internet use, growth and innovation, and on the rapid evolution of internet-enabled connectivity from our keyboards to our phones. ‘Mobile‘ and its various dimensions–from hardware to operating systems to advertising to commerce–is a frequently-recurring theme across Meeker’s presentation.

While Meeker’s presentation is highly informative, we would argue that these are less so ‘trends’ and more so observations of proven, visible evolutions that have been taking place at a broad scale for some time, and that will continue to impact communications, life and business. Few of these felt like emerging surprises, instead more like factual observations of what has been observed and discussed (supported by some interesting data points). But perhaps we’re just getting caught up in semantics.

Internet Trends 2011

+Electronics & Gadgets
+Media & Publishing
+middle east
+mobile devices
+Social Media
+Work & Business

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